PANOS INSTITUTE Southern Africa, PISAF is condemning in the strongest terms the growing harassment of journalists and independent media houses by the police and other state agents in Malawi.
Lilian Kiefer is the executive director of PISAF, a media support and communication development organisation based in the Zambian capital Lusaka.
She says the regional NGO views any harassment of the media as a reverse of the gains the country had recorded in quest for media freedom which culminates from the enactment of the Access to Information Act, ATI.
In her strong opinion any attack or harassment of journalists or media houses is not only a violation of the media’s freedom to seek and share information but also an infringement on the citizen’s right to seek, receive and share information through their preferred channels.
On 22 June police officers beat up two journalists working with Zodiak Broadcasting Station when they were doing their job covering the fracas between police and vendors in Mzuzu city.
The recent attacks on the media come months after President Peter Mutharika signed the access to information act which has a clear provision for journalists to access and disseminate public information.
PISAF is thus appealing to the government of Malawi to hasten the implementation of the access to information act with the hope that it will address some of the challenges currently being faced by journalists.
Kiefer is also making a strong call to the Malawi Police Service to sensitise its officers on the role of journalists in development and the importance of media freedom on development.