24 September 1997


Journalists association launches campaign against parliamentary motion which threatens free expression and press freedom

Incident details



(MISA/IFEX) - The Journalists Association of Namibia (JAN) has
launched a campaign against a self-empowering motion which has
implications for freedom of speech and of the press. The Namibian
Parliament wants to move a motion to empower itself to subpoena
and demand sources of information from members of the public,
including the media, as and when it feels like. The motion,
announced in Parliament on 8 September 1997, will make it a
criminal offence to disregard a parliamentary subpoena or refuse
to divulge information and its source. The motion is raised under
the Parliamentary Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act of 1996.
The Act further prohibits the media from interviewing
parliamentarians on matters of public interest before they are
tabled in the house.

**For background, see IFEX press release/action dated 22
September 1997; for background on Parliamentary Powers,
Privileges and Immunities Act of 1996, see IFEX alerts dated 9
May, 26 and 23 April 1996**

On 19 September, JAN issued a statement lobbying parliamentarians
against supporting the motion.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • noting Namibia's commendable tradition of upholding and
    promoting media freedom and free expression, as demonstrated by
    the decision by Parliament in 1996 to scrap clauses in the draft
    Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act which
    threatened to violate these rights
  • expressing concern that Parliament is now going to be asked to
    consider a motion which would have a similar effect as the two
    scrapped clauses, and which would also empower parliamentary
    committees to subpoena and force journalists to reveal their
    sources of information
  • voicing concern that the new motion and related sections of the
    Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act threaten to
    stifle the flow of information between the government and the
    public, and thus undermine the right of the public to be informed
    on matters of public interest; and that these pieces of
    legislation are in breach of Article 21 of the Namibian
    Constitution, which guarantees media freedom and free expression
  • urging parliamentarians to continue to champion the cause of
    media freedom and free expression by rejecting the parliamentary
    motion, and scrapping sections of the Powers, Privileges and
    Immunities of Parliament Act related to forcing people to reveal
    sources of information to parliamentary committees

    Appeals To

    Dr Mose Tjitendero
    Speaker of the Namibian Parliament
    Private Bag 13323
    Windhoek, Namibia
    Tel: +264 61 2889111
    Fax: +264 61 226899

    Copies to:

    His Excellency President Sam Nujoma
    State House
    Private Bag 13339
    Windhoek, Namibia
    Tel: +264 61 220010
    Fax: +264 61 221770/227491

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Media Institute of Southern Africa
    21 Johann Albrecht Street
    Private Bag 13386
    misaalerts (@) gmail.com
    Fax:+264 61 248016
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