By Romeo Umali
Media Institute of Southern Africa, Malawi Chapter (MISA Malawi) says it is concerned with continued arbitrary summoning, arrests and detentions of journalists by the Malawi Police.
The organisation issued a statement yesterday after police arrested Watipaso Mzungu yesterday and Joy Radio journalist Enock Balakasi on April 2.
MISA Malawi in its statement signed by chairperson Tereza Ndanga condemned the actions by the police and described the summoning, arrests and detentions as an attack on media freedom.
“We have previously engaged the Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Kainja, over such violations. The current trend puts into question the commitment to protect press freedom that the IG had personally expressed,” she said.
Ndanga added there are many times police authorities have promised to discipline officers for attacking journalists on duty but in the end no action has been taken.
“The Malawi police must understand that media freedom is enshrined in the Republican Constitution and their duty is to protect and not violate it.
“Continued summoning, arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists for simply doing their job will unfortunately reflect badly on the country’s performance in the yearly press freedom indexes.”
MISA Malawi has since appealed to President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration, through the Ministries of Homeland Security and Information, to work with the Malawi Police Service in addressing Journalists’ concerns.
Yesterday, Mzungu was detained for about two hours over a story in which he quoted a rights activist who criticized President Lazarus Chakwera. He was released after police got a statement from him.
Balakasi was on April 2 arrested because he was covering and taking pictures at a certain incident in Kawale where police were trying to bring order after a resident threatened to commit suicide.
The officers detained Balakasi for over two hours for covering and taking pictures at an incident in Kawale where police were trying to bring order after a resident threatened to commit suicide.
The police accused Balakasi of carrying out his duties without seeking permission. They deleted pictures from Balakasi’s phone and later released him unconditionally.