Namibia: Media Freedom Cannot Be Suspended or Diminished By State of Emergency - NMT

The Namibia Media Trust (NMT) recently said they are appalled by the recurring incidences in which public officials try to prevent media houses from covering events and issues of national concern.

Zoé Titus, Director of NMT said they are opposed to the use of COVID-19 regulation to infringe on the rights of journalist to access information, most specifically, they denounced any attempt to inflict bodily harm on journalist in the course of their work.

Explaining the situation Titus said media houses received invitations to cover the inauguration of the isolation facility at the Windhoek Central Hospital, but just before the scheduled event were informed that only the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) would be allowed inside the facility.

"Because of this miss-communication Journalists Charmaine Ngatjiheue from the Namibian and Jemima Beukes from the Namibian Sun were manhandled by State House security personnel when they attempted to access the facility," she added.

Titus said after the confrontation, the security personnel reportedly shouted at them 'what if you got shot', giving insight into the mindset of public safety professionals and the ease with which they would resort to opening fire on civilians.

"We condemn this in the strongest term and call upon State House and government in general to liaise with media on a mutually beneficial arrangement that would prevent such distasteful occurrences and enable media to do their job going forward and it should be noted that the right to media freedom enshrined in the Constitution cannot be suspended or diminished by a State of Emergency," she emphasised.

She highlighted that if this preferential treatment is allowed, were only one media house is allowed to cover State House events, then there would be no need for journalist, which in turn dramatically impedes the watchdog role of the media and independent journalism.

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