Amnesty International says bold attacks on press freedom in Zambia and Angola has left a chilling effect on media practitioners.

And Amnesty International says persistent attacks on journalists and media owners in the region is weakening independent journalism and media freedom.

In a statement released by Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena yesterday, Amnesty International observed that there had been disturbing attacks on press freedom in Zambia and Angola.

“From Angola to Zambia, we have seen disturbingly brazen attacks on press freedom which have a chilling effect on those working in the media. Across the region, journalists have been targeted simply for exposing the truth,” Amnesty International stated.

“When journalists are constantly harassed, intimidated and jailed simply for doing their work, it sends a frightening message to other journalists – causing them to self-censor and undermining the whole profession, Journalism is not a crime and media professionals should be given a safe space in which to do their work.”

The organisation also cited other abuses on journalists across Southern Africa.

“In Lesotho, Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri who narrowly survived a shooting after being attacked by unknown gunmen on 9 July 2016. He was previously intimidated and harassed, including through trumped up charges of criminal defamation in September 2014, for his newspaper’s investigative journalism work. Since the shooting he has abandoned his job and left the country. Another journalist working for the same newspaper, Keiso Mohlobodi, has left the country fearing for her own safety after facing harassment by the police for exposing corruption,” Amnesty International said.

“In Botswana, journalists continue to face harassment and intimidation for carrying out investigative and critical journalism. In March 2017, two journalists from INK Centre for Investigative journalism were briefly detained and threatened with death by plain clothed security agents after they tried to access the area where the private holiday home of President Ian Khama is being constructed. They were stopped and told that it was a “restricted area” which they cannot access. They were warned that if they tried to come back, they would be killed.”

And Amnesty International urged authorities across Southern Africa to urgently reverse the closing of the media space.

“This cynical onslaught is weakening independent journalism and rolling back the hard won media freedom fought for since colonial times. The authorities across Southern Africa must urgently reverse the closing of the media space. Persistent attacks against journalists and media owners are threatening press freedom and the growth of independent media across Southern Africa,” Amnesty International stated.