The International Federation of Journalists called today on the Government of President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi to unconditionally abandon prosecution against two local journalists, Raphael Tenthani and Mabvuto Banda, who were arrested last weekend and released on bail. They were charged with “publishing false news”.
“Journalists shall not be held and prosecuted without any justification for publishing long-held convictions in a country like Malawi”, said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ African Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal. “Those in power today have over the last decade been the first to benefit from the democratisation process and should be leading the defence for human rights and press freedom”.
Journalists Raphael Tenthani, a BBC correspondent, and Mabvuto Banda, reporter with the privately-owned daily The Nation and a contributor to Reuters, are “symbols of the democratisation process that is being embraced in Malawi” said Baglo. Their freedom is an imperative to enable them continue reporting to their people however inimical they are to the government of Malawi.
The IFJ firmly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists and calls on the authorities to outlaw any further reference to “press crimes” that could lead journalists to jail in Malawi.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries