Mozambique: Threats to Journalists Endanger Media Independence

Maputo — The General Secretary of Mozambique's National Union of Journalists (SNJ), Eduardo Constantino, has warned that threats and physical assaults against journalists are a menace to the editorial independence of the country's mass media.

Speaking in Maputo, at a ceremony marking the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Constantino said "in recent years, the country has recorded alarming situations of threats, kidnapping, beatings and intimidation of journalists" which prevents them from doing their job with independence.

"Without journalists, there is no journalism", he continued. "Without journalism there is no democracy. And without democracy there is no good governance".

Constantino urged all those in positions of power "to let journalists do their job without interference or threats".

If journalists violated ethical norms, he added, means of redress are available under the country's media legislation, which provides for the right of reply, while those who claim they have been defamed can take the matter to the courts.

The Minister of State Administration, Ana Comana, said the Freedom of Information Act is an instrument that contributes to the transformation of the Mozambican public administration. She regarded universal access to information as a fundamental human right.

She thought major steps forward had been taken, such as the training of over 14,000 public officials in the obligations that the Freedom of Information Act imposes on the state.

11,000 brochures and the same number of leaflets and 4,000 CDs have been distributed containing information about the act.

In the final quarter of this year, Comoane added, the Document Assessment Commissions at every level of the public administration should draw up their annual report on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, for submission to the Ombudsman.

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