Freedom of the Press 2009 - Zambia
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Zambia, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b2741ed5.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 20 (of 30)
Political Environment: 25 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 20 (of 30)
Total Score: 65 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
Press freedom in Zambia lost ground in 2008 as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), a watchdog organization, reported a sharp rise in the number of abuses surrounding the October presidential by-election and criticized the slow pace of media law reforms.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution, but the relevant language can be broadly interpreted.
Libel cases can be pursued in either a civil or a criminal court, and defamation of the president is explicitly a criminal offense. A 2007 defamation case filed by a cabinet official against a private newspaper, the Zambian Watchdog, was still unresolved at the end of 2008.
Government officials continued to harass journalists in 2008. In August, Zambia's ambassador to Libya threatened journalists from the government-controlled Zambia Daily Mail with dismissal for refusing to publish his articles. In November, radio announcer Father Frank Bwalya was arrested for questioning the fairness of the presidential by-election.
In addition to the Zambia Daily Mail, the government controls the Times of Zambia, and several private newspapers operate freely.
A number of private radio and television stations broadcast alongside state-owned stations, and international outlets are not restricted. The local private stations carry little political coverage, as the government uses the libel and security laws to discourage it.
The government does not restrict internet access, though only 4.3 percent of the population used the medium in 2008.