Friday, July 17, 2009

Charges against Post news editor are shocking and ridiculous – Reporters Without Borders

Charges against Post news editor are shocking and ridiculous – Reporters Without Borders
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, July 17, 2009 5:21:03 AM

GLOBAL press freedom organizations have urged the government to withdraw pornography charges against Post news editor Chansa Kabwela, with Reporters Without Borders describing the charge as shocking and ridiculous.

In a statement obtained yesterday, Reporters Without Borders observed that it was outraged to learn that Kabwela was arrested on 13 July on a charge of “distributing obscene materials”, namely photos of a woman giving birth in a hospital car park.

“Kabwela’s arrest is shocking and the grounds are ridiculous. We urge the government to withdraw these absurd charges. Kabwela is clearly innocent because she made a point of not publishing these photos. She just sent them to certain government officials and NGOs,” Reporters Without Borders stated.

“The photographs are anyway not pornographic. Their aim was to alert the authorities to a public health problem. This episode is just another case of the government obstructing this newspaper’s work.”

Reporters Without Borders observed that The Post, the country’s leading independent newspaper was being hounded by the authorities.

“Reporters Without Borders is aware of at least six cases of members of its staff being physically or verbally attacked by leaders of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy since the start of the year,” the statement read in part.

And in a separate statement, issued in New York last Wednesday, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator Tom Rhodes stated that the arrest of Kabwela on what he termed “bogus charges” of circulating obscene materials was alarming.

“The only obscenity in this case is that a child should die outside a hospital for want of proper care,” said Rhodes.

“The charges against Chansa Kabwela should be dropped immediately, and the ongoing harassment of her newspaper by the authorities must end.”

According to latest CPJ research, The Post which is known to be a tough critic of the President, detailing corruption allegations involving the administration on a regular basis had been targeted with reprisals.

CPJ research stated the ruling MMD supporters have threatened Post staff, including vendors of the paper, on six occasions in the first five months of 2009.

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