The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has called on the government to end threats, attacks and arbitrary arrests of journalists.
In a statement ahead of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), which falls today, Misa Malawi notes that journalists, who are supposed to be a source of reliable information, are under “unwarranted attack from authorities, state institutions and sometimes, the general public”.
“Since January 2020, 20 journalists have been physically assaulted, threatened, arbitrarily detained and questioned in the line of duty, a development that threatens the constitutionally guaranteed media freedom,” the statement, signed by Misa- Malawi chairperson Teresa, Ndanga reads.
It adds that such attacks do not only create fear in journalists but have the potential of compromising the quality of information as they force journalists to self-censor.
Misa-Malawi faults the government for apparently failing to bring to book and prosecute any of the attackers, despite having an obligation to ensure the safety and security of every Malawian.
“Perpetrators of crimes against journalists continue committing such crimes as they seem to be immune to prosecution,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Media Council of Malawi chairperson Wisdom Chimgwede has called on journalists to take the day as an opportunity to reflect on their work.
Chimgwede says the fourth estate, as the media is often called, must celebrate their ‘supposed’ freedom on one hand, and reflect on their responsibilities, on the other.
“As journalists, this is an opportunity to rethink how we have contributed to the growth of the media in the country and the world at large. I am talking of ethical journalism, because that is the only type of journalism that has a positive bearing on people’s lives and national development,” Chimgwede says.
Minister of information Gospel Kazako was not immediately available for a comment but is expected to attend the gala dinner marking WPFD this evening.
This year’s WPFD also marks the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration that birthed the day itself.
Misa-Malawi has also called on media houses to introduce in-house policies to protect women from sexual abuses.
The 2021 WPFD is being celebrated under the theme ‘Information as a public good’.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.