His Excellency President Rupiah Banda
27 January 2011
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the arrest of two journalists, the closure of a radio station and the banning of radio phone-in programmes.
According to reports, on 14 January police forced their way into Radio Lyambai in Western Province and confiscated equipment including computers and a radio console, resulting in the station going off the air. Assistant Station Manager Nyambe Muyumbana was arrested for producing “seditious materials” before being released on police bail.
The station was raided after it aired an advert for a banned meeting about the Barotse Agreement, a deal which guaranteed a degree of autonomy for Barotseland when Zambia gained independence in 1964 but which was soon abandoned by the government. Following recent calls for its reinstatement, on 11 January the government banned all phone-in shows on the subject.
On 17 January Mwala Kalaluka, a reporter for the privately owned The Post, was detained by police in Kabwe when he was overheard having a conversation about the Barotse Agreement. The police questioned Mr Kalaluka and asked him to reveal his sources, which he refused. Mr Kalaluka reportedly remains in detention.
We respectfully remind you that jailing journalists for carrying out their professional duties and banning the discussion of issues of national interest violate numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'
We also respectfully bring to your attention the Declaration of Table Mountain, endorsed at the 60th World Newspaper Congress and 14th Editors Forum in Cape Town in June 2007. The Declaration calls on African states to promote the highest standards of press freedom, uphold the principles proclaimed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other protocols, and provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press.
We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Mr Kalaluka is immediately released and that all charges against him and Mr Muyumbana are dropped. We ask you to lift the ban on discussion of the Barotse Agreement and to do everything possible to ensure that in future your country fully respects international standards of press freedom.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
cc: Faith Pansy Tlakula, African Commission Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
Enc. Declaration of Table Mountain