Friday, June 17, 2005

Private press victim of deteriorating political climate

Reporters Without Borders has expressed concerned about growing tension engulfing opposition media after a radio journalist was questioned for reading a listener's fax on air and newspaper sellers were brutally attacked by presidential party activists.
The press freedom organisation urged the Lusaka police chief, in a letter, not to allow the press to become a scapegoat.
"The press are often a convenient scapegoat when the political climate in a country deteriorates", Reporters Without Borders said in a letter to the regional police chief in Lusaka, Chendela Musonda.

"The two recent incidents reported in Zambia seem to us worrying in this context. The interrogation of a journalist and the assault on newspaper sellers are signals that we would not like to see repeated. That is why we are asking you, on one hand to ensure that the services that you are in charge of observe the strictest legality in dealings with the press and respect the principle of protection of sources of information. On the other hand, we have noted your actions aimed at punishing the perpetrators of the assaults on the sellers of the Post. We nevertheless ask you to see to it that these investigations are thorough and independent.

"Unless this happens, suspicion which would undoubtedly fall on the Zambian police, could aggravate a situation that is already quite unstable."

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