British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet has hailed government for condemning harassment of journalists, saying it is unacceptable because it threatens media freedoms and the ultimate freedom of expression.

Speaking when he and his Canadian counterpart Pamela O’Donnell paid a courtesy call on Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya at her office in Lusaka, Monday, Cochrane-Dyet hailed goverment’s tough response to the recent harassment of journalists at Radio Maria in Chipata and Power FM radio in Kabwe.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting department’s Public Relations Unit.

He said the international community was happy with the stance government had taken to protect the media against any form of harassment because harassment of journalists was a threat to freedom of the media and freedom of expression.

And speaking when she handed the minister an invitation to attend the Global Conference for Media Freedom to be co-hosted by Britain and Canada in London in July this year, Canadian High Commissioner to Zambia Pamela O’Donnell said the two-day conference would also focus on media freedom and protection, cyber laws as well as coming up with a common ground to address these and other issues.

In response, Siliya said government was fully committed to public access to information hence its approval, in principal, of the Access To Information Bill due to be tabled in Parliament in the course of the year at the heart of which is a recognition that in a democracy Government is merely a custodian of information – its true owners are the people.

Siliya reiterated government’s desire to grow a professional and ethical media hence its call to the media fraternity to come together and form a professional body by which they will regulate themselves, adding that she also wanted to see continued private sector involvement and investment in the media for job and wealth creation.

On the media conference in London, Siliya thanked the two governments for the invitation, saying the meeting had come at a critical time when countries had to address the challenges posed by the emergence of the new information technologies and their offshoots of fake news cyber crimes, hate speech and other negative attributes.

Siliya said apart from the exchange of views on various issues affecting the media, the Zambian government would also use the platform to clarify on a number of issues being perpetrated by some sections of the media and other publications to paint a wrong image of the country.