The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) today joins other organisations and individuals around the world in commemorating International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, which is commemorated on November 2 each year, draws attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers.
MISA Malawi recognises the need for journalists and media workers to work without any hindrance, including not to be attacked, in their noble duty of informing the public about social issues happening in society.
MISA Malawi therefore finds the International Day to End Impunity for Violent Crimes Against Journalists an appropriate day to remind government, its agencies and all other individuals and organisations of the need to ensure that crimes against journalists are avoided at any cost.
MISA Malawi, however, is not impressed with the way state agencies, more especially the Malawi Police, have handled cases of violent crimes against journalists and media workers.
In May 2018, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets manhandled Times Group cameraman Douglas Banda at Parliament Building in full view of police officers and senior party officials but to this day, nobody has been charged or convicted on the matter.
In June 2018, some police officers in Mzuzu also roughed up Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) journalists Musase Cheyo and Towera Kumwenda in the line of duty and nobody has been charged or convicted on the matter.
In July 2018, some people who are also believed to be ruling party supporters accosted journalist Idriss Ali Nassah at Shoprite in Blantyre and the silence from authorities on the matter is deafening. Times Group reporter Sam Banda was also manhandled in the line of duty and his camera got damaged in the process.
Authorities are yet to discipline prison warders who manhandled two Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists at Maula Central Prison in Lilongwe on July 17, 2017. MBC reporter Patrick Dambula and cameraman Hastings Khomo were manhandled by warders at Maula for going to the facility to cover a sit-in. MISA Malawi appealed to government and prison authorities to take action on the matter but nothing has happened to this day.
To this day, a drone belonging to MBC is also yet to be recovered after it went missing during a misunderstanding on the perceived coverage of an opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) meeting by the public broadcaster.
We still seek justice in all these cases.
As we commemorate the End of Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists today, MISA Malawi calls on government and its agencies to come out clear on the unresolved crimes against journalists. We demand justice and would want to see the perpetrators of any violent acts against journalists brought to book. We need to end Impunity for the Crimes Against Journalists.
MISA Malawi also joins the rest of the world in seeking justice on cases of murdered journalists across the world. We implore agencies tasked with the protection of human rights to especially see to it that justice prevails in the recent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi. We desire a just world for all journalists and media workers.