The Executive Director of Information and Communication Technologies, Audrin Mathe, says threats of violence and attacks against journalists constitute serious violations of freedom of expression and hinder the free dissemination of information to citizens .
Mathe said this on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which was commemorated yesterday.
“As a country that promotes the values and principles of press freedom, this day reminds us to speak out against any form of injustice against journalists around the world,” he said.
Mathe said the Namibian government reaffirms its commitment to freedom of expression and the press, while calling on all countries to heed this call as it is part of the foundations of democracy.
“Namibia will continue to ensure a safe and conducive environment for all journalists. Journalism is a public good and we must protect it. By protecting the media, we protect democracy,” Mathe said.
He said the Access to Information Bill, which was recently passed in parliament, is a cornerstone of freedom. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of President Hage Geingob before becoming law.
Meanwhile, Namibia Media Trust director Zoe Titus said that as powerful elites gain access to more resources and the African continent is plundered, journalists are increasingly subject to attack when those who wielding political power wreak havoc with impunity.
“As a result, journalists, especially those who do investigative journalism on public procurement and extractive industries issues, find themselves in the crosshairs of politics, power and corruption,” Titus said. She said Africa is plagued by conflicts that create the perfect conditions to perpetuate corruption and hamper functioning institutions of government.
“When government funds and resources are diverted through corrupt activities, instead of being used for the benefit of citizens, social and economic growth regresses,” she said.
Titus said the commemoration specifically remembers Chadian journalist Orédjé Narcisse who was shot and killed outside his home on October 20 this year.
Narcisse was on his way to work when men in military uniform allegedly opened fire on him.
“We urge the Chadian government to open an investigation into his assassination and bring those responsible to justice,” she said.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.
Titus said the plan notes that there has been a marked increase in digital threats over the past decade that requires decisive action by governments, media outlets and media development organizations around the world.