The Namibian government is debating a new bill that would regulate the media industry and punish individual journalists as well media houses for “reporting irresponsibly”, the country’s information minister has revealed.
Information minister Tjereko Tweya said if approved, the draft Access to Information Bill would create a media regulatory body that would ensure that journalists did not use information “out of context” or write stories based on their own opinions, as opposed to facts.
“Going forward, government will create a statutory body to ensure that the media is held responsible in the event that they abuse their power to report, write and broadcast, and make themselves guilty of defamation and slander of people’s character in public.
“That must come to an end. You [media] can have access to information, but there should be consequences if you use it for anything other than what you would have initially requested it for,” he said.
Tweya said government had decided to take the initiative and set up the regulatory body because the media had failed to create a platform for self-regulation since 1990.
However, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) country chapter has opposed the proposal for government regulation, saying the move would be a violation of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2002.
– African News Agency (ANA)