New York, July 15, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the arrest of Zambian journalist Chansa Kabwela on bogus charges of circulating obscene materials.
Kabwela, news editor
for The Post, was arrested on Monday
for circulating two photographs of a woman giving birth without medical aid
outside the University Teaching Hospital, which was involved in a health care worker
strike at the time, the newspaper reported. On June 10, Kabwela sent the photos
with a letter to the vice president, the minister of health, the cabinet
secretary, the archbishop of
The photos were taken by the woman's husband, who gave them to The Post because he believed that what happened should not happen to others, according to Sam Mujida, the paper's deputy manager. Mujida said that editors decided the pictures were too graphic for publication but felt it important to raise awareness among government and civic leaders about the human impact of the strike. The infant died shortly after birth, according to news accounts.
"The only obscenity
in this case is that a child should die outside a hospital for want of proper
care," said CPJ's
Kabwela, who is free
on bail, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday before Chief Resident Magistrate Charles
Kafunda at the
he had not been sent the photos, President Rupiah Banda had called the photos
pornography and had urged police to take action. "I hope those responsible for
the law of this country will pursue this matter," Banda said a June 24 press
briefing, The New York Times reported.
The Post is known to be a tough critic of the president, detailing corruption allegations involving the administration on a regular basis. The paper has been targeted with reprisals, according to CPJ research. Ruling party supporters have threatened Post staff, including vendors of the paper, on six occasions in the first five months of 2009, CPJ research shows.