Home 9 Media violations & victories 9 MISA Malawi concerned with arbitrary arrests, detentions of journalists by police

MISA Malawi concerned with arbitrary arrests, detentions of journalists by police

Stop senseless arrests
6 Apr, 2021
Media freedom is enshrined in the Republican Constitution.

MISA Malawi is concerned with the continued arbitrary summoning, arrests and detentions of journalists by the Malawi Police.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, authorities at the Malawi Police Service (MPS) Headquarters in Lilongwe summoned, detained and questioned freelance journalist Watipaso Mzungu for about two hours over a story published on Nyasa Times on April 2.

Mzungu was summoned over a story in which he quoted a local organization which criticized President Lazarus Chakwera’s delay to reshuffle the cabinet by March 31, 2021 as earlier promised. Mzungu was at the police headquarters from around 8 to 10am. Police released Mzungu unconditionally after taking a caution statement.

The summoning and detention of Mzungu comes after officers from Kawale Police Station in Lilongwe also arbitrarily arrested and detained Joy Radio journalist Enock Balakasi on Friday, April 2, 2021.

The officers detained Balakasi for over two hours for covering and taking pictures at an incident in Kawale, where police were trying to bring order after a resident threatened to commit suicide.

The police accused Balakasi of carrying out his duties without seeking permission. They deleted pictures from Balakasi’s phone and later released him unconditionally.

MISA Malawi condemns the actions by the police in the strongest terms and believe the summoning, arrests and detentions are an attack on media freedom.

We have previously engaged the Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Kainja, over such violations. The current trend puts into question the commitment to protect press freedom that the IG had personally expressed.

We are also reminded of the many times police authorities have promised to discipline officers who have attacked journalists on duty. We are yet to see this materialize.

The Malawi police must understand that media freedom is enshrined in the Republican Constitution and their duty is to protect and not violate it.

Continued summoning, arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists for simply doing their job will unfortunately reflect badly on the country’s performance in the yearly press freedom indexes.

MISA Malawi would therefore like to appeal to President Chakwera’s administration, through the Ministries of Homeland Security and Information, to work with the Malawi Police Service in addressing our concerns.

Media contacts

MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga
Cell: 
+265 999 247 911 or email teresa.temweka@gmail.com
MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa
Cell: 
+265 999 327 311 or email info@misamalawi.org

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

Share this

Related news

Misa Malawi decries low ATI utilisation

Misa Malawi decries low ATI utilisation

By Steve Chilundu, Nation Publications Limited The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has called for increased awareness of the Access to Information (ATI) Act by the media and the public to increase utilisation of the law. Misa Malawi...

MISA Malawi counters Covid misinformation

MISA Malawi counters Covid misinformation

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has organised a series of media briefings that seek to counter misinformation related to Covid-19 pandemic. Misa Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga disclosed this last Wednesday during the first virtual media...

MISA Malawi to host Covid-19 press conferences

MISA Malawi to host Covid-19 press conferences

The alarming levels of misinformation and inaccurate information around the Covid-19 pandemic have necessitated MISA Malawi’s response by hosting Covid-19 press conferences between August and December 2021. The conferences, nine in total, are aimed at providing the...

MISA Malawi Vice Chairperson in Zambia for election observation

MISA Malawi Vice Chairperson in Zambia for election observation

MISA Malawi Vice Chairperson Mandy Pondani is in Zambia for General Elections observation. Pondani is part of a six-member MISA Regional Mission observing media and freedom of expression landscape during that country’s General Elections. Zambians are voting to elect...

News

/ MISA on Twitter