Fesmedia Africa and partners commemorated the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists 2021 on 2 November

Fesmedia Africa in partnership with the Namibia Media Trust (NMT), the DW Akademie and the Goethe Institute hosted an event to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November 2021. The commemorations, held at the Goethe Institute, comprised a panel discussion under the theme “What are the Cuts in Namibia” and the screening of "A Thousand Cuts", a film about Maria Ressa, a Filipino journalist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The event also saw Namibian journalists and press freedom activists holding a moment of silence in solidarity with journalists who have disappeared or been killed across the world. There was a slide show of pictures of journalist who lost their lives as a result of their gallant fight for press freedom and democracy in their countries.

A Thousand Cuts chronicles the experiences of Maria Ressa as a journalists and CEO of Rappler-an online news website, and the attack on press freedom and other human rights violations at the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.  

The film was paused at its climax and a panel discussion was held to look at the different cuts experienced by journalists in Namibia. The panel consisted of Ms.  Zoe Titus,  the Director of NMT , Ms. Jemima Beukes, Senior Political Journalist at The Namibian Sun  and Mr. John Nakuta, the Namibian Media Ombudsman and a Professor of Law at the University of Namibia. Mr. Peter Deselaers, Programme Director Namibia & Southern Africa  at the DW Akademie, moderated the panel discussion.

Speaking during the panel discussion, Zoe Titus said the Information Protection Act of 1989 of Namibia is a fundamental threat towards journalists under the clause of disinformation and Judiciary ethical laws which heavily influence reporting in Namibia. 

The Act tabled in 1989, provides for the protection from disclosure of certain information; and to provide for matters connected therewith. This act has a devastating effect on access to information which can then result in journalists reporting on fake news as they are not provided with facts on a particular story. The society lost trust in information brought forward by the media because the media has been characterized and labelled as a hot zone for fake news during the Covid 19 pandemic.

With the hope of changing things, Jemima Beukes, urged politicians and the society to recognize journalists as messengers who are focused on relaying information to the public. She further said that media houses must have clear a distinction of responsibilities and incorporate proper compensation of journalists. “When the working conditions of Journalists are improved there will be optimal performance” she said.

In addition, a vast majority of judges view the media with fear and hesitancy, thus when faced with the media they opt for approaches such as total absence of interaction or not granting interviews about active cases. Reporters mostly rely on the official case proceedings as their primary information source.

Namibia's constitution guarantees freedom of the media, and its press enjoys a relatively open environment. However, constitutional protections for national security, public order, and public morality provide legal grounds for restricting media freedom. The Editors’ Forum of Namibia (EFN) Media Ombudsman John Nakuta, reiterated that defamation is a criminal offense under common law and this impacts the freedom of the media.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) for Crimes against Journalists in response to the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013. In commemoration.

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