Posted by: APO | 16 July 2009

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY ZAMWA, PAZA AND MISA ZAMBIA ON THE ARREST OF POST NEWS EDITOR CHANSA KABWELA / Media Bodies urge government to clearly define obscene matter in the Penal Code


 

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY ZAMWA, PAZA AND MISA ZAMBIA ON THE ARREST OF POST NEWS EDITOR CHANSA KABWELA / Media Bodies urge government to clearly define obscene matter in the Penal Code

 

LUSAKA, Zambia, July 16, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA), Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) And the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia would like to urge the government and Members of Parliament to amend the law on obscenity in order for the said law to define in clear terms what constitutes obscenity and matter that can corrupt morals.

 
 

Currently Section 177 makes it an offence to be in possession of, or circulation of obscene material. However, this law does not define what constitutes obscene matter. It simply makes the offence punishable through imprisonment up to five years. However, the law is too broad and it leaves to the discretion of the person in authority to determine what constitutes obscene material.

 
 

As media associations, whose membership is drawn from media practitioners, we wish to urge government and indeed our law makers to amend these laws that impinge on press freedom by clearly defining what constitutes obscenity. Currently under this law, journalists are operating in grey areas that are not clearly defined.

 
 

We wish to register our concerns that information that is communicated must be treated with the intention it was communicated because as media ethics demand, sometimes, public interests override private interest and that should be the light in which this matter should be viewed.

 
 

Though the pictures were in bad taste, the message behind the pictures was meant to seek a reaction and consequent solution from the authorities towards a solution to the nurses and health worker’s strike.

 
 

We are concerned that the precedence set by this arrest and subsequent charging of Miss Chansa Kabwela will set a bad precedence of past eras where if a person reported to the Police that he/she had come across a dead body then he would be the first suspect the police would question as a sad development because this kind of approach to sensitive matters will hinder whistle blowers as the same standard would be applied to them.

 
 

This trend will breed more corruption which government is grappling with in the ministry of health and many other sectors.

 
 

We appeal to the government and legislators to ensure that they do away with laws that have been in existence since colonial days or the 1930s. Its amazing that Zambia has been a democratic country for about 18 years but is still very happy to be guided by colonial laws that were meant to suppress indigenous Zambians.

 
 

Signed

 

Zambia Media Women Association

MISA-Zambia

Press Association of Zambia

Press Freedom Committee of The Post Secretary General

 

SOURCE 

Media Institute of Southern Africa


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