As Malawi joins the rest of the world to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, refreshing news is that the country has done well on press freedom global rankings this year as it has moved to 64 down from 70 last year out of 180 countries.
The ranking was released on Wednesday by media watchdog Reporters San Frontiers.
It notes that media practitioners do their work without hindrance and the passing of the Acess to Infirmation law – which is yet to be operationalised -assented by President Peter Mutharika is a boost to press freedom.
“A law allowing journalists to request information about elected officials and government institutions finally came into effect in February 2017, more than 12cyears after it was first raised,” the report said.
Nonetheless, the media watchdog noted that a law still provides for the imprisonmdnt of thosewho ‘insult’ the Head of State.
Minister of Infomartion, Communication and ICT, Nicholous Dausi said Malawians should be “proud” that “there is an observance of freedom of the press.”
He said the press “ should at all cost be left to work professionally.”
Dausi said the Peter Mutharika administration considers media as an essential tool in promoting accountability and democracy, adding that Government is satisifed that journalists in Malawi conduct their work in a safe environment and that no journalist has lately been harassed, imprisoned or killed because of their work.
“Media practitioners should uphold ethical and professional standards, by desisting from circulating fake news. They also need to embrace new technologies,” Dausi advised.
But an access to information law, which will enable journalists and the general public to get information needs to be rolled out , said chairperson on Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter.
The theme for World Press Freedom Day 2018 is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law.’
World Day Freedom Press was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, according to the draft recommendation of the 26th meeting of UNESCO’s General Conference, held in 1991.
The celebration of this 2018 is also framed in a year of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :