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Press freedom is fundamental

Jan 12, 2011, 10:05 AM

We have written over and over, in this column, that journalists are partners in development and not enemies of the state or powers that be.

What we have seen in this country and other countries around the world, especially in Africa, is that when the journalist writes a favourable report, from the perspective of the powers that be, he or she is applauded as a good boy or girl.

However, when the reports are critical, the journalist is vilified and branded as public enemy number one. This should not be the case, as the journalists everywhere see themselves as partners in nation-building.

All this comes  down to the question of freedom of expression and Press Freedom, in particular. The media have their own code of conduct, and should be allowed to operate within their code of ethics; any extra-professional law is overkill.

As we enter the New Year, we would like to urge the authorities to abolish all draconian press laws. The media needs to function effectively in a hassle-free environment. The more the media is gagged, the more and more rumours and insinuations will fly about, to the disadvantage of everybody - both the government and the people.

This is the plain fact, because when freedom of expression is tampered with or restricted, democracy suffers and, as a result, those whom democracy is supposed to serve also suffer.

The only people who benefit from restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression are those in power, and those who have some secrets they wish to keep hidden.

Where the press is free, then democracy is at work.

To this end, we add our voice to that of the media chiefs, and once again call on the authorities to consider repealing all draconian media laws, for the good of the country.

“Let it be impressed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights”.