An increase in government intolerance for media coverage of critical views compromised Namibia's reputation as a model democracy. On numerous occasions, the media have accused President Sam Nujoma and other senior government officials of restricting free speech and abuse of public broadcasting facilities in their use of the state-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Television to promote government policies or air the opinions of public officials. Incidences of censorship, effected by NBC management's refusal to release or air footage of interviews with government officials that contain sensitive issues or attacks on individuals or organizations that criticized government officials and their policies, have also increased in frequency.
Journalists are facing new legal threats. Provisions of the Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Law, passed in April, define the publication of "false information" about Parliament or its proceedings as an offense, and a National Assembly amendment defines the intentional or negligent publication or disclosure of information placed before a parliamentary committee as an offense. Both are punishable by a maximum fine of N$20,000 (U$5,000) and/or five years' imprisonment.
The year ended with the publication of an interview with President Nujoma in the state-funded newspaper New Era, in which he accused the country's press of being an "enemy," "reactionary," not "Namibian," and run by foreigners. None of Namibia's private press operates under foreign ownership.
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