MISA Malawi strongly condemns the physical and indecent assault of two journalists, Golden Matonga of Nation Publications Limited and Gladys Nthenda of Kulinji.com by some demonstrators during protests organized by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in Lilongwe.
During the demonstrations on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the demonstrators tore Nthenda’s clothes and also stole a mobile phone and a wallet belonging to Matonga, accusing the two journalists of being government spies.
It is very unfortunate that the assault on Matonga and Nthenda did not stop even after the two duly displayed their professional identity cards. Both Matonga and Nthenda were left traumatized and were unable to complete their duties.
We would like to applaud the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) soldiers who intervened and helped rescue the two.
MISA Malawi, which is also a human rights advocacy body, believes that all human freedoms and rights, including the right to demonstrate, should be exercised with responsibility.
We therefore expect demonstrators to exercise their right to demonstrate while recognizing the existence of other rights and freedoms such as media freedom, which is enshrined in the Republican Constitution and nobody has the right to take the same away from journalists.
Creation of a hostile environment for journalists by demonstrators is uncalled for and the organizers of these demonstrations must decisively deal with such barbaric acts. Journalists should be provided with a conducive environment to perform their duties all the time.
Lastly, MISA Malawi would like to reiterate its call for journalists to ensure that they are in identifiable clothing all the time as they cover any event that has potential of putting their lives at risk. Journalists who do not have such clothing are encouraged to make an inquiry with MISA Malawi secretariat on the availability of media vests.