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By JOHN SAKALA
MISA Zambia is disappointed with the information of harassment and subsequent arrest of Chingola’s Rise FM Radio.
Misa Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale said harassment of Rise FM Radio Presenter Derrick Chilufya by police officers on August 12, 2019 needs to be strongly condemned.
Chilufya was harassed and arrested by police officers after more than 60 job seekers in Chingola who were promised employment which was not given to them by Mox Minerals Limited went to Rise FM radio station to express their grievances.
It was at this point that police officers who went to check on what was happening at the radio station started beating the job seekers and they spotted Chilufya answering a phone call as he was coming out of the studio.
Police suspected that he was taking a video of what was happening.
“We view this harassment of Chilufya by police officers who are expected to protect him but who rather with impunity turned around to harass him as an exhibition of clear unprofessionalism and unrestrained impunity which must be checked. MISA Zambia would like to remind the police that they are the law enforcers and as such they should aim at protecting and provide law and order to the people in the country and not harass them.
“Journalists deserve protection and space to carry out their work in an environment free of intimidation, harassment or any form of harm. The police should work to create an environment which promotes mutual cooperation rather than resort to confrontation and therefore abusing freedom of expression and the media. It is the statutory obligation of the police to ensure that Zambians and journalists enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms,” she said.
Ms Mwale said MISA Zambia cautioned the Zambia Police Service to act in a professional manner and not contribute to the erosion of the little faith Zambians still have in the service.
She said police must effectively address concerns like the harassment in Chingola to prevent a repeat of such violations in future.
“We urge the police to refrain from acts of human rights violations in their enforcement of restrictions provided for the enjoyment of such rights. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right to all Zambia as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, regional and international Instruments to which Zambia is a party of. The media is a public good which serves all kinds of people.
“We wish to reiterate that it is the duty of the media to inform the public on issues that affect their welfare and they should not be victimised for performing their duty. Democratic tenets dictate that there should be guarantee of media freedom with deliberate moves to ensure media diversity, pluralism and independence both editorially and operationally. We believe media practitioners must be held accountable for their actions if in conflict with the law but this must be done in a fair manner,” she said.
She said Misa Zambia offers solidarity to Rise FM Radio.
Ms Mwale implored other journalists at the station to remain calm and carry on with their duty of facilitating the dissemination of information and citizen participation in governance without fear or favour.