MISA Malawi would like to express its dismay at continued assault of journalists in their line of duty by members of the Malawi Police Service (MPS). Assault of journalists for merely doing their work is barbaric and retrogressive and has to stop.
Members of the MPS assaulted journalists Julius Caleone of YONECO FM, Hebert Katanda of Luntha Television, Malumbo Ngwira of MIJ FM and Emma Zawanda of Timveni at Lilongwe Police Station on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
The journalists were at Lilongwe Police Station to report on the events surrounding the arrest of Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Timothy Mtambo.
The journalists had sought refuge within the Station premises when the law enforcers had fired tear gas to disperse people who were protesting outside the Station. Some police officers were however not happy with the presence of the journalists at the Station and chased them from the premises.
The police officers insulted the journalists, pelted stones at them and even shoved Hebert Katanda with a gun.
The officers accused the media of being behind the protests in the country.
MISA Malawi finds it very unfortunate that police officers continue to be hostile to journalists on duty despite our several appeals for a reformed police service.
As law enforcers, police officers ought to understand that the Republican Constitution guarantees media freedom and that the freedom applies at all times, including the time of protests or civil unrest.
We remind the MPS to discipline officers who abuse their law enforcement duties by assaulting and abusing journalists. The officers must stop treating journalists as criminals.