As the world commemorates International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, MISA Malawi is concerned that perpetrators of attacks on journalists in Malawi remain free and are enjoying the impunity.
It is in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI).
On this day, we are concerned with the police’s failure to arrest and prosecute Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters who assaulted Times Group photojournalist Francis Mzindiko during President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s official opening of the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) Complex in Blantyre in May this year.
MISA Malawi is also worried that police have failed to arrest and prosecute Silver Strikers Football Club supporters who physically assaulted Kasupe Radio Reporter Smart Chalika in August this year.
These are just two of many crimes against journalists that have seen no justice in Malawi. We call for an end to such impunity as failure to arrest and prosecute those who attack journalists in the line of duty fuels crimes of similar nature.
This year, we are commemorating IDEI under the theme ‘Violence against journalists, the integrity of elections, and the role of public leadership’. This theme seeks to give visibility to the role of a safe and free press in ensuring the integrity of elections and our democratic systems.
The theme is a timely reminder to the government of Malawi and other relevant bodies to rise above rhetoric by adopting and implementing measures that will ensure the safety of journalists and bring to an end the culture of impunity.
As the Malawi Electoral Commission, political parties, individual political leaders and other electoral stakeholders step up preparations for tripartite elections in 2025, the theme is a point of reflection for media houses, individual journalists, the electoral commission, political parties, other stakeholders and the police.
In the run up to 2019 elections and other past elections, we recorded an increase in the number of journalists who were attacked by supporters of different political parties. For the media to safely and freely cover the next elections, Malawi needs to develop and implement systems that safeguard journalism and do away with impunity for crimes against journalists.
Attacks on journalists create an environment of fear and unnecessary censorship in the media and that is the death of journalism. We can preserve our democracy by ensuring that the media is safe and free to professionally report on democratic systems such as elections, politics, political parties and political leaders.
Journalism is not a crime. Attacks on journalists and impunity for crimes against journalism are crimes.
MISA Malawi Chairperson Golden Matonga
Cell: +265 99 616 9705 or email email@example.com
MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa