NAMIBIAN journalists should remain vigilant even with the current democracy and freedom of expression they enjoy as it is not always guaranteed, director of the Namibia Media Trust Zoe Titus said.
Titus said while crimes against journalists are not experienced in Namibia the way they are internationally, the rise in online harassment against journalists and withholding of public information can set a precedent.
Titus said this while speaking to The Namibian on the eve of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists which is commemorated today.
“The specific issue of crimes against journalists is not experienced in Namibia to the regional and international extent, but what is important is that journalists are aware and stand in solidarity with their colleagues abroad,” Titus said.
Namibia is ranked 18 on the Reporters Without Borders 2022 World Press Freedom rankings and number two in Africa, after Seychelles, making it one of the safest countries in Africa for journalists.
In a separate statement, Titus said: “Our (media) freedoms must be guarded with vigilance for, just as it was granted, it can be withdrawn. Additionally, we would welcome our government speaking out against issues of impunity against journalists elsewhere,” she added.
UN secretary general António Guterres, in a message commemorating the day, said free press is vital to a functioning democracy, exposing wrongdoing, navigating complex worlds and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Gutteres revealed that 70 journalists have been killed this year, while a record number of journalists are incarcerated and threats of imprisonment, violence and death keep growing.
“A surge in disinformation, online bullying and hate speech, particularly against women journalists, is contributing to the stifling of media workers around the world. Intimidation through the abuse of legal, financial and other means is undermining efforts to hold the powerful accountable. These trends threaten not only journalists, but society as a whole,” Guterres said.
He called on governments and the international community to take the necessary steps to protect journalists and stand up for truth, justice and human rights for all.