The Photographers Association of Malawi (Photama) has condemned continued police hostility to the media saying such actions are retrogressive and a joke to the country’s hard won democracy.
The condemnation comes in the wake of the recent police seizure of a camera from Nation Publications Limited (NPL) Photojournalist Thoko Chikondi who was on line of duty.
“PHOTAMA has learnt with disbelief that officers from the Malawi Police on Monday, January 27, 2014, seized a camera (before giving it back) belonging to Nation Publications Limited Photo-journalist, Thoko Chikondi,” said President Lucky Zerembe Mkandawire, Tuesday January 28 2014 evening in Blantyre.
It is reported that the female photojournalist was taking pictures at the residence of former Malawi Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Ralph Kasambara where he was being re-arrested on money laundering charges.
The Photographers Association President regrets that despite identifying herself and producing a press card the police still went ahead to snatch Chikondi’s gadget.
The president observed that what the police did was not only a violation of the Photojournalist’s rights and freedom of expression but also ruthless.
“Photojournalists, all over, are professionals tasked with bearing witness to matters of national importance and public interest and that was exactly what Chikondi was trying to do- discharging her professional duties.
“This undertaking is exceptionally imperative when there are issues of developing public interest such as the one the police were actually performing at Kasambara’s residence,” the Photama President explained.
The Police, he observed, need not be reminded that just like other professionals, the media has a public duty to carry out and they should, at every point, be provided with maximum protection, and not been harassed by the very persons entrusted with the task.
“PHOTAMA believes Chikondi did not break any law by making photographs at the event, thus, views police action as a way of preventing professional photographic documentation,”lamented the Photama boss.
Established in 1998, Photama among others protects the interests and rights of photographers and their work.
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