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Government urged to promote freedom of the press

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By Serah Makondetsa, New York, USA:

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent United States of America (USA) non-profit-making non-governmental organisation (NGO), has urged governments across the globe to promote freedom of the press amid growing trend of fake news.

The call comes at a time when most Africa countries have just conducted or are approaching election period.

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Speaking to journalists on media tour on “media literacy and combating misinformation” in the US, CPJ Advocacy and Communications Manager Kerry Paterson said their organisation keeps track of the freedom of the journalist all over the world.

She said a huge percentage of journalists who are attacked cover politically connected stories and those that are exposing the ills of government or institutions.

“The interest in power mostly brings about the oppression of journalists. You know journalists are a mouthpiece to the people and so knowledge is power, that is why people in authority oppress journalists. It is the corruption, the mismanagement that some authorities do not want exposed out there,” she said.

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Paterson said every government can do more to protect the freedom of journalists arguing a lot needs to be done for the press to be free and independent.

“I can say every government can do a lot more to protect and safeguard the rights of the press. One of the things we have seen is that, traditionally, government needs a push to protect journalists, particularly those in the private sector,” she said.

Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said though Malawi has improved on this area, there seems to be some impunity for those who attack journalists.

“You remember the attack on Times Group journalist at Parliament, up to now, no one has been charged. Same with the attack of a journalist from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation during an MCP [Malawi Congress Party] meeting, no one has been charged yet.

“The trend is what worries us. We think this may indirectly encourage more attacks on journalists as we go towards elections. We would like to see political leaders condemn the attacks and preach peace,” she said.

Earlier on, Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi said freedom of the press is a collective achievement that all players need to take part in.

Meanwhile, a report that was released by a global media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres a few months ago revealed that Malawi has this year improved on press freedom globally.

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