Ridiculous pornography charges brought against newspaper editor
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||15 July 2009|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Ridiculous pornography charges brought against newspaper editor, 15 July 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a604bbc1a.html [accessed 21 August 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders is outraged to learn that Chansa Kabwela, the editor of the independent daily The Post, was arrested on 13 July on a charge of "distributing obscene materials", namely photos of a woman giving birth in a hospital car park. She was released on bail pending trial in August or September after pleading not guilty yesterday.
"Kabwela's arrest is shocking and the grounds are ridiculous," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the government to withdraw these absurd charges. Kabwela is clearly innocent because she made a point of not publishing these photos. She just sent them to certain government officials and NGOs."
The press freedom organisation added: "The photographs are anyway not pornographic. Their aim was to alert the authorities to a public health problem. This episode is just another case of the government obstructing this newspaper's work."
Kabwela wrote to Vice-President Georges Kunda, the health minister and several NGOs on 10 June voicing concern about the conditions in which women were giving birth as a result of a strike by hospital doctors and nurses. The letter included photos of a woman giving birth outside a hospital after being turned away.
A week later, President Rupiah Banda described the photos as pornographic and urged the police to take action. Kabwela was questioned by the Lusaka police for several hours on 2 July.
Zambia's leading independent newspaper, The Post is being hounded by the authorities. Reporters Without Borders is aware of at least six cases of members of its staff being physically or verbally attacked by leaders of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy since the start of the year.