Wednesday, October 23, 2013
JUMA STATEMENT ON THE ARREST OF GALAXY FM RADIO JOURNALIST
For immediate release
Dated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The Journalist Union of Malawi (Juma) is concerned with the conduct of government through its law enforcing agency over the questioning and arrest of Galaxy FM radio journalist Sylvester Namiwa, who also happens to be the Union's Vice President.
We understand that Mr. Namiwa was cautioned and charged with publishing content likely to incite violence on Tuesday, October 22, 2013.
It is the view of Juma that the government should have followed civilized and proper channels as an aggrieved party to the purported offensive broadcast by Galaxy FM by either lodging an official complaint with the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) or MISA Malawi or Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra).
The use of state machinery like the Police when clear and appropriate channels of resolving media grievances are available is tantamount to gagging the press and suppressing freedom of expression and media freedom as such practice instills unnecessary fear in people that the government is entrusted to govern.
Government's action in this instance has brought to the fore the need for the review and repeal of laws that restrict free speech, such as Criminal Defamation and other Insult Laws, which are used to silence critics and stifle media freedoms.
Although Juma does not condone professional misconduct by its members in the execution of the noble profession, we do not think the arrest of a journalist over professional misconduct when there are appropriate channels for lodging media-related complaints is the right thing for government to do.
Juma would like to echo sentiments by other professional media bodies such as MISA Malawi Chapter that those who have been aggrieved by any media house in its broadcast or publication should use available appropriate and professional channels of resolving their grievances like engaging MCM, MISA, or Macra and that they should desist from using government machinery and state organs to instill fear in
journalists and the public.
Frederick Ndala Jnr