WINDHOEK: The Regional Governing Council (RGC) of the Media Institute in Southern Africa (MISA) has commended the efforts of certain governments in the region to repeal repressive laws that infringe on media freedom.
The call was made in a media statement availed to Nampa here on Tuesday by MISA Namibia on the MISA 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday.
At the AGM, the RGC made resolutions and statements on media freedom developments and challenges in Southern Africa.
¨We note with appreciation overall improvements in the media freedom and freedom of expression environment in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region,¨ the statement read.
It said such improvements are evident in the positive engagements in dialogue between governments and media policy lobby groups, as well as greater recognition of the watchdog role that media is required to play.
The organisation denounced and condemned any form of intimidation at its AGM adding that in as much as it applauds governments for these efforts, it must take exception to reports of intimidation and physical attacks against media practitioners.
¨We commend the efforts of certain governments to either repeal repressive laws that infringe on media freedom or develop policies that enhances access to information and freedom of expression,¨ it said.
Among these in Namibia, MISA is encouraged with the implementation of Communication Act and the interaction of the Communications Regulations Authority of Namibia with media houses.
Furthermore, MISA also welcomed the unbanning of government advertisements in the local independent daily newspaper, The Namibian.
However of concern to MISA, is the increase in civil defamation cases against the media in Namibia, particularly when the office of the Ombudsman has proven itself as a workable alternative, the statement said.
¨In Malawi, MISA recognised the positive actions by the new government in that country to facilitate the work of the media,¨ the statement said.
MISA is particularly pleased with the awarding of 15 broadcasting licenses, which it says is an indication of the willingness to open airwaves in Malawi.
In Lesotho, MISA is encouraged by the public commitment of the new coalition government of the country to pass the Media Policy and Access to Information Legislation within a 100 days.
Meanwhile in Swaziland, MISA is concerned about the continuous infringements on citizens rights to freedom of expression and media freedom.
MISA thus appeals to the government of that country to adhere to the constitution of its country and the principles outlined in the Windhoek Declaration on a diverse and pluralistic African press.