THE Namibia Media Trust yesterday condemned an attempt by the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) to silence and censor local media.
This follows an urgent application brought before the Windhoek High Court on Thursday by NCIS director general Philemon Malima against the Patriot newspaper and it's editor Mathias Haufiku, in a bid to stop the weekly from publishing a news report about former members of the spy service as well as the purchase of certain properties.
The NCIS claims that publishing such information would contravene the 1982 Protection of Information Act and threaten and/or jeopardise national security, therefore information about them should be held under a blanket of secrecy.
The Namibia Media Trust (NMT)'s executive chairperson Gwen Lister in a statement issued yesterday, however, condemned the action of NCIS, saying that the 1982 information Act being referred to was unconstitutional as "it violates both freedom of speech and the media".
She added that were also serious criminal penalties attached to the outdated law, "which has a chilling effect on the work of journalists reporting freely in the public interest".
"The outdated legislation also flies in the face of our democratic Constitution and it's guarantees of freedom of speech and expression," she said.
"The NMT unequivocally condemns the NCIS using the courts and a draconian law to censor the media and stifle the public's rights to access to information [...] the action by NCIS to stifle media freedom is unacceptable," she said.
The NMT executive chairperson, thus, called on government to urgently remove the oppressive law from "our statute books, along with any other that undermines the constitutionally entrenched rights to free speech".