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Malawi


Bodyguards for Economic, Planning and Development Minister Ralph Jooma assaulted Raphael Mlozoa, journalist for the private Zodiak Broadcasting Station, on August 25, 2013, in the southern town of Mangochi, according to news reports. The minister accused Mlozoa of false reporting and ordered his security staff to confront Mlozoa, the reports said.

A security officer fires rubber bullets at Star photographer Motshwari Mofokeng. (The Star)

From Cape Town to Lilongwe, four photographers on routine news assignments in major southern Africa cities were assaulted by security officials in the past two weeks. The details differ, but the heavy-handed actions in each case reflect a belief among those responsible for security that they are above the law and not publicly accountable. These recent attacks in southern Africa also highlight a wider phenomenon: Every day, somewhere in the world, news photographers are subjected to physical abuse by security and public officials who wish to suppress or control the powerful message delivered by images.

(Pan African Parliament)

The Pan African Parliament's (PAP) launch of a media freedom campaign through a "Dialogue on Media Freedom in Africa" in mid-May marks an important and welcome starting point. For too long, media freedom has been divorced from the debate around development and democratization when it has an integral role to play in promoting transparency, underpinning good governance, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions.

Nairobi, January 7, 2013--Malawian authorities must immediately investigate the reported assault of a radio journalist who said he was punched by a business leader angered by an interview question.

The cover of local newspaper Daily Times last year, when the law was passed. (Sarah Berms)

Nairobi, May 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Wednesday's vote in the Malawi parliament that repealed a sweeping amendment to the country's penal code which had allowed the government to ban any news "not in the public interest."

The government of Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika, pictured, has threatened journalists with fines and arrests for disrespecting him. (AFP/Alexander Joe)

No media outlet critical of President Bingu Wa Mutharika or the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was spared by the government this past weekend -- whether print, broadcast, or online. The broadside included a public campaign to discredit the media as well as threats of fines and arrests of critical journalists.

President Bingu wa Mutharika signed a penal code amendment that allowed the government to ban any publication it deemed “not in the public interest.” Authorities did not immediately use the new tactic, but local journalists said the law’s existence had created a chilling effect. Government officials also made use of court injunctions to silence critical coverage of public officials’ financial dealings. Authorities and ruling party supporters pushed back aggressively against coverage of nationwide protests over rising fuel costs and diminishing bank reserves: Police and security officers beat and detained journalists; the government blocked the transmissions of four private radio stations; and suspected ruling party supporters damaged two vehicles belonging to the private Zodiac Broadcasting Corp. The managers of a critical online news outlet, Nyasa Times, said they experienced a denial-of-service attack that took down their website during the protests.

Malawi police arresting protesters. (Malawi Voice)

New York, July 21, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns sweeping arrests and attacks on journalists, as well as censorship by the administration of Malawi President Bingu Wa Muthiraka against media outlets reporting on nationwide antigovernment protests that erupted on Wednesday.

ZBS' smashed Land Rover. (ZBS)

New York, July 19, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by intimidation of the private Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on Sunday and Monday by masked assailants as protests were planned for Wednesday in the capital.

The president with first lady Callista Mutharika at a G20 summit last year. (AP)
In Malawi, where half the population survives on a dollar a day, it proves wise for the political elite to keep their exorbitant wealth hidden from public scrutiny.  That's why they appear to be running to the courthouse to file injunctions to silence the press.
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Africa

Program Coordinator:
Sue Valentine

Advocacy Coordinator:
Mohamed Keita

East Africa Consultant:
Tom Rhodes

West Africa Consultant:
Peter Nkanga

svalentine@cpj.org
mkeita@cpj.org
trhodes@cpj.org
pnkanga@cpj.org

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