Malawi government through Foreign Affairs Minister Francis Kasaila has made a pledge to ensure that there is enabling environment for media freedom, diversity and independence.
Kasaila was part of the delegates at the Global Conference for Media Freedom held in London this week.
The media freedom conference was hosted by Britain with the Canadian government and attended by delegations from more than 100 countries which included Foreign Ministers and diplomats.
Apart from Minister Kasaila, Malawi had delegates from the media who included Misa-Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga, journalists Thom Chiumia, Kondwani Munthali and Pilirani Phiri.
Kasaila attended the conference aimed to defend media freedom from restrictive practices by governments, encourage participants to develop plans to legislate for a free press, help improve journalists’ safety and counter disinformation.
He said the administration of President Peter Mutharika “commits to ensure there is media freedom as enshrined the Constitution of Malawi.”
In her comment, Misa Malawi chairwoman Teresa Ndanga, said the conference has shed the light on areas that both governments and the media need to continue working on.
“Freedom of the media should not be handled as a gift to journalists. Governments have an obligation that they establish and sustain a good environment for the practice of journalism because that is the foundation for a free society, good governance and a gateway to development,” she told Nyasa Times at the conference held in a building in London’s docklands that used to house the UK’s Daily Mail’s printing presses but has since been converted to a clubbing and event space.
“On the other hand, those of us in the media need to demonstrate that we can self-regulate. That we can report professionally,” Ndanga added.
During a plenary which Malawi Foreign Minister also attended, the British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt warned that countries that restrict media freedom must be made to pay a diplomatic price.
“If we act together we can shine a spotlight on abuses and impose a diplomatic price on those who’d harm journalists or lock them up for doing their jobs,” Hunt said, without elaborating on the measures that could be taken.
Hunt said he hoped the event would become annual and announced £600,000 a year of extra funding to provide support and training to journalists to countries including Malawi.
“Media freedom is not a western value but a universal value. It frees a society from the abuse of power,” he said.
He said countries around the world , including Malawi, will be asked to have a national action plan to defend media freedom and that a task force will be giving reports annually at UN summits.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :