Zambia

Zambia

Independent media harassed

An increase in political tension since President Edgar Lungu’s reelection in 2016 has been used as a pretext for drastically restricting the freedom to inform and gagging the independent press. The authorities closed the most important independent newspaper, The Post, in June 2016 and arrested members of its staff. Several radio and TV stations also had their licences withdrawn. Prime TV, a commercial TV channel that was very critical of the government, was suspended for a month in 2019 after being accused of contributing to the ruling party’s defeat in a parliamentary by-election, and was closed for good in 2020 for unclear reasons. To prosecute journalists, the government either uses financial pretexts (such as non-payment of taxes in the case of The Post) or the various laws regulating defamation and sedition. A newspaper editor who had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for contempt of court was finally released in late 2019 after nearly a year in prison. Physical attacks against journalists and media outlets are common, especially during elections. Ruling party officials sometimes threaten to close media outlets for not covering the president “properly”. The government also announced its intention to tax free phone calls on social media, a facility widely used by Zambia’s journalists and bloggers. The increase in intimidation, attacks and prosecutions has fuelled an increase in self-censorship. The promised law on access to information has yet to be adopted, while a law on cyber-security and cyber-crime is causing concern. Many journalists and bloggers suspect that it will be used to gag the media and impose Internet cuts more easily.


115
in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index

Ranking

+5

120 in 2020

Global score

+1.21

37 in 2020

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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