The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has expressed concern over media reports that Investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe is receiving threats after a story that was published on the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) revealed over K8 billion payment to a company owner by corruption suspect Zuneth Sattar.
Reports indicate that Investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe and Mercy Matonga are living in fear following the publication of stories on PIJ and Malawi news respectively.
According to a statement released by the commission signed by its Chairperson, Chikondi Chijozi, the threat to the journalism is a threat to media freedom.
“It is the considered view of the Commission that any threat to a journalist is a threat to media freedom in Malawi as a whole and can impact negatively on the state of governance in Malawi,” says the Commission.
The statement has added that press freedom allows journalists and media organisations to report and communicate information without censorship or interference from government or other entities and Press Freedom is a fundamental right.
MHRC has also indicated that the country’s constitution under section 36, gives the press the right to report and publish freely, withing Malawi and abroad and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.
“Freedom of the press is a prerequisite for good governance because it serves as a check on potential abuses of power and helps to uncover wrong doing. Malawi subscribes to international human rights instruments that promote media freedom,” indicates the statement.
The Commission has also highlighted that Principle No.2 of the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression, and Access to Information states that a restriction of the freedom of expression sought to be justified on the ground of national security is not legitimate if it’s genuine purpose or demonstrable effect is to protect interests unrelated to national security including to protect a government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing or conceal information about the functioning of it’s public institutions.
“Press Freedom fosters Democratic principles and an open society,” says the Commission.
MHRC has called on the Malawi Police Services (MPS) to investigate the alleged threats against Gregory Gondwe and Mrs. Matonga and ensure that they are protected from any harm.
Meanwhile, media reports indicate that Investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe is on the run and outside the country for safety.