MISA condemn violation of media freedoms

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By Lerema Pheea

Media Institute of Southern Africa has lambasted the deplorable state of media freedom in Lesotho following various reported cases of violations of media freedoms within the month of November that include gruesome torture of a 357 FM radio presenter Lebese Molati.

Molati has said he was told to report himself to the police and upon arrival, he was asked what he knows about the disappearance of firearms from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Mafeteng armory.

Molati said he was severely tortured through the use of a tire rubber used to suffocate him to near death numerous times while he was being questioned.

It is this among other incidents of November that also included the questioning of Teboho Ratalane of PC FM that the MISA said flies in the face of media freedom.

Members of MISA Lesotho’s National Governing Council Boitumelo Koloi condemned the acts of “terror and utter abuse instigated and orchestrated by the part of society entrusted with protecting members of the general public”.

Koloi continued to say that MISA is mindful of the fact that there are media practitioners and media houses that in the execution of their mandate seem to play into the hands of the enemy’s territory by overlooking their basic operational tenets and executional ethics of professionalism.

He said it is worth noting that if and when media play to the wrong audience or dance to the tune of a politician or others influence, they become compromised thus endangering the media sector.

“MISA finds the string of attacks against journalists and the media in Lesotho extremely worrying and calls on authorities to create an environment that promotes freedom of expression and of the media.

“The attacks of journalists are even more concerning as they come almost a year ahead of the country’s National Assembly General election expected in 2022,” said Koloi.

He said the violations of media freedoms bring into question the country`s state of democracy and if and whether the custodians of the State are committed to their mandate.

“They also cast aspersions on the disputability of the country`s commitment to media reforms as part of the National Reforms,” said Koloi.

He further mentioned that MISA urges the authorities to guarantee and ensure the safety and security of the journalists and media workers in the country.

He also added that the Police Officers on a drive to terrorize journalists and media workers must be investigated and duly held accountable for their unlawful actions

“Government must also adhere to the revised principles of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) declaration on freedom of expression and access to information.

“MISA also appeals to authorities to ensure that the National Reforms fully materialized as the country now pins its hopes thereon especially on media reforms which are seen as catalysts towards crossing country over to a new legal dispensation,” said Koloi.

He added that MISA strongly urges media practitioners and their media organizations to remember their basic operational tenets and to, at all times, during the execution of requisites of their noble mandate; be professional and adhere to operational code of conduct and media ethics at all times.

He said failure to observe the code of conduct of the media endangers media houses and media practitioners and leaves them prone to abuse by others with differing and adverse goals.

MISA’s Chairperson Nkoale Oetsi Ts`oana said that they do not tolerate politicians who masquerade as media practitioners because they fail to act impartially.

He said if there is an issue of interest for the public, journalists must investigate and get the right information.

Ts’oana added that it was discovered it is in broadcasting media than in print media where the reputations of people are being tarnished and advised broadcast journalists to do their work with impartiality.