World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Zambia, 24 July 2013

Protest Campaign - Zambia, 24 July 2013

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His Excellency President Michael Sata
President of Zambia
Lusaka, Zambia

24 July 2013


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the arrest of three journalists working for the online publication the Zambian Watchdog and the repeated blocking of access to the site.

According to reports, police arrested Wilson Pondamali, a freelance journalist, while he was traveling from Lusaka to his home in Kabwe on the evening of 16 July, accusing him of being a contributor to the Zambian Watchdog, a site that reports on corruption. Mr Pondamali's arrest follows that of two other journalists accused of writing for the Zambian Watchdog on 9 July. Armed with warrants to search for illicit drugs, police raided the homes of Clayson Hamasaka and Thomas Zyambo and arrested the journalists. They were later released.

Mr Pondamali is reportedly in hospital under police guard having been charged with four offences, including unlawful possession of military books and theft - accusations he denies. Mr Zyambo is set to appear in court on 26 July charged with sedition, which carries a minimum sentence of seven years in jail.

Authorities have blocked domestic access to the Zambian Watchdog several times in the past month, despite the site moving to a more secure address. The site has frequently been criticised by the authorities for its investigation of government corruption.

These arrests and censorship occurred only two months after the passing of a resolution supporting press freedom at the Pan African Parliament (PAP), of which Zambia is a member. The Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa was endorsed by members of the PAP, which also recognised our organisations’ Declaration of Table Mountain, which calls for greater press freedom in Africa, and launched an annual media freedom index for the continent.

In line with the Midrand Declaration, we respectfully call on you to end the intimidation of the Zambian Watchdog and to ensure charges are dropped against Mr Pondamali, Mr Hamasaka and Mr Zyambo so that they may carry out their journalistic role of informing the public. We urge you to take all possible steps to ensure that in future Zambia fully respects its international obligations to freedom of expression

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Yours sincerely,


Tomas Brunegård
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum


WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


cc: Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Faith Pansy Tlakula


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2013-07-24 14:35

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...