Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Namibia
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||3 May 2002|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Namibia, 3 May 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/487c522cc.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
The authorities made numerous statements against the independent press throughout the year and the state president severely criticised local media. The country's main daily was the victim of an advertising boycott by the government.
During Unesco ceremonies to celebrate the 10th International Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2001, a note in the press file reminded journalists present that their work was to be limited to coverage of the conference. That day, President Sam Nujoma said he "had had no positive experiences with the media" of his country. The next day the managing editor of the independent daily The Namibian expressed her concern: "It's a bad sign and it's an attempt to discredit the independent media that criticise government corruption in Namibia". In late May the president ordered the government and state institutions to cancel their subscription to The Namibian. He added that those who still wanted to read the newspaper had to buy it with their own money and no longer with "public funds".
During the week of 15 October a member of parliament from the ruling SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation) attacked the press: "Some media have become liars [...] We have to strengthen the powers restricting journalist's rights". He was reacting to an article in The Namibian which reported that a hospital had denied a rumour about a couple who had remained stuck together after sexual intercourse. According to the member of parliament, journalists should not "report rumours".
One journalist arrested
Police arrested Max Hamata, reporter with the daily The Namibian, on 12 October 2001 after he had gone to a hospital to inquire about the health of a former member of parliament accused of treason. Max Hamata was charged with "interfering with the police's work" and released on bail, pending trial. The police refused to restore his video camera which they had confiscated.
Pressure and obstruction
On 10 January 2001 the permanent secretary to the information ministry, Mocks Shivute, challenged freelance journalist David Kashweka, saying that he did not understand why someone "who, for six years, was a member of the government newspaper New Era, has chosen to write such a malicious article on Namibia. It's as if he bit the hand that fed him". The journalist had published an article in the independent daily The Namibian, stating that border areas with Angola were being plundered by Unita rebels (armed movement at war against the Angolan government) and were economically and socially paralysed.
Mocks Shivute reminded official services on 22 March that they had to apply the government's decision to no longer advertise in The Namibian, with "immediate effect". The authorities explained that this decision was related to the tone of the daily, judged too critical. This measure had been decided by the government, the country's main advertiser, in December 2000 but had not been applied. A few years earlier another newspaper, The Windhoek Advertiser, was forced to close due to a lack of income after being struck by the same sanction. The leader of a coalition of opposition parties said in parliament that this measure may be "the first sign of a collapse of democracy" in Namibia.
In September Namibian defence minister Erikki Nghimtina tabled a bill in parliament to restrict the publication of military information. The bill provided for sanctions in case of dissemination of information likely to undermine state security, especially photographs of military installations or infrastructure.