IFJ Calls for Release of Journalist in Zambia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest on 18 January 2011 of Nyambe Muyumbana, an assistant station manager of Radio Lyambai, a private station based in the western Province in Zambia over allegations of inciting violence.


“Accusations of inciting violence against journalists must not be made lightly and the authorities should first establish what happened in this case,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “Journalists have a right to oppose and criticize the Government’s policies and any attempt to intimidate them constitutes a serious violation of freedom of expression and press freedom which are fundamental rights enshrined in Zambia’s Constitution.”


On 18 January 2011, the journalist Nyambe Muyumbana was arrested by the Zambia Police based on allegations that he had aired on 14 january 2011 a programme which allegedly incited violence in Zambia. He is currently detained at Mongu Central Police, but has not been charged yet.


According to Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), after airing the programme on 14 January, Police forced their way into Radio Lyambai and confiscated broadcast equipment which included computers and a radio console, resulting in the station going off air. Police accused the station of broadcasting seditious material on the morning of a planned meeting that day in Limulunga, within the precincts of Mongu, which was deemed illegal by the government.


The meeting, called by people advocating the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, ended in a violent riot where police say two people died, several were wounded and both private and government property was extensively damaged or destroyed.


A western Province Police Officer, confirmed to MISA in Mongu this arrest and detention, but did not disclose the charges against the journalist, saying the police were still investigating the matter.


The IFJ calls the Zambian Authorities to release immediately and without condition the journalist and take urgent measures to guarantee press freedom and freedom of expression to create a safer environment for journalists especially in the view of the next elections.


“The journalist’s work is part of the democratic process which must be protected,” added Baglo.


For more information contact the IFJ at   +221 33 867 95 87   

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide