Jailing of a Journalist ‘Sinjela’ paints Judiciary black

By Andrew Sakala
The jailing of Derrick Sinjela is sad and has left a sense of injustice, frustration and helplessness.

That a journalist has been jailed for publishing a story based on a letter requesting an investigation into alleged corruption is sad.

That Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal chose to charge him with contempt of court, leaving no option but leaving a sense of frustration.

I have doubts whether this will enhance the credibility and respect of the judiciary.

Rather this will create a sense of fear and resentment towards our courts.

However, this brings to fore the absurdity of the colonial era laws that still reside in the criminal penal code.

These laws are antidemocratic and are not in tandem with a 21st century democracy.

The law relating to contempt of court is one of the Laws that need to be amended.

The calls to revise the penal code have been going on since the early 1990s but successive administrations have been reluctant to implement media law reforms.

For as long as these unjust laws remain on the statute books, citizens including journalists remain vulnerable to unfair sanctions including incarceration when authorities invoke these draconian laws.

As early as 1994, the media fraternity identified more than 10 pieces of legislation that need to either repealed or amended because they hinder free operations of the press.

Any transgression of these abominable laws result in criminal sanctions and unfortunately Comrade Sinjela has fallen victim.

The truth is all journalists are at risk and no one is safe.

It is time for government, the law development commission, Parliament and the public at large to join in the campaign for not just media law reform but revision of the archaic penal code and other antidemocratic laws.

 

The Independent Observer

John Sakala is a Journalist yearning for independent journalism

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