The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is demanding K200 million from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) after the public broadcaster described the grouping as a terrorist organization.
HRDC says the money is for injury caused on its reputation.
On Thursday, the grouping organized demonstrations across the country and the protests were characterized by isolated incidents of violence.
In its report on the protests, MBC Radio described HRDC as a “terrorist organisation”. A recording of the news item read by MBC presenter Matilda Mkandawire has been shared widely on social media.
In a letter to the state broadcaster dated 17 January, 2020, HRDC through lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa says any reasonable person would not want to associate with the organization given the connotations associated with terrorism.
“Terrorism is not only a moral vice but is also a crime under our laws as well as international criminal law. The words published were therefore very defamatory and contrary to the values and principles on which our client’s organisation is based,” reads part of the letter.
The organization adds in the letter that MBC has a large local audience hence the said news bulletin which was in vernacular language has the propensity to reach the widest possible audience in Malawi and beyond.
HRDC also observes that a lot of Malawians and non-Malawians circulated a recording of the news item on social media and other internet platforms, further injuring the reputation of the organisation
“As a direct result of Ms. Matilda Mkandawire’s actions which were duly sanctioned by your institution, therefore, our client’s reputation has been injured. Your institution has several layers of quality control and our client has no doubt that this broadcast was sanctioned by your institution. In any case, your institution would be vicariously liable for the actions of your presenter, Ms. Matilda Mkandawire,” reads part of the letter.
The coalition then demands MBC to pay K200 million damages and to broadcast for seven days a retraction and an apology with the apologies commencing 48 hours from Friday.
HRDC says the apology should also be published on MBC website as well as its social media networks.
The grouping has since warned that it will commence legal proceedings against MBC and Mkandawire if the demands are not met or if MBC does not respond to the letter before the 27th of January, 2020.