20 September 2001

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Media watchdog cites press freedom violations

Authorities in parts of southern Africa have pursued the harassment of journalists despite efforts to improve the situation, a report by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was quoted as saying on Thursday.

MISA chairman Joseph Masanilo pointed to Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Swaziland as countries which have seen arrests and threats to journalists, with the closure of media organisations, especially private ones. "But we must not lose hope," Masanilo told representatives of media from 11 southern African countries in his report to the MISA annual general assembly.

"However, let us warn ourselves once again that the struggle for press freedom and related human rights is not an easy one," Masanilo was quoted as saying. He said MISA this year had a "bitter experience" in Swaziland when the authorities shut down a newspaper and arrested several journalists on the grounds that they had defamed the King.

"I would like to recall the brutal events against the media and journalists in Angola and Zambia. In Zimbabwe, journalists and reporters have been threatened by authorities," Masanilo said. (IRIN)

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