Thursday, 6 August 2009

Zambian journalist on trial over childbirth pictures

A Zambian journalist went on trial for distributing obscene materials on Wednesday (August 5) after she sent the vice president photographs of a woman giving birth.
Chansa Kabwela, news editor at Zambia's The Post newspaper, was arrested last month after she sent selected senior officials images of the woman giving birth without medical assistance during a national health workers' strike over pay.

The case has grabbed national headlines, with various rights groups accusing the government of harassment.

"This case is a very emotional case in the sense that as artists and people who benefit from the media and freedom of information, we feel this is a wrong case altogether, because the charges that have been brought against Chansa Kabwela, first of all we feel they are not worthy charges to be brought before the courts of law, because they are charges that have been instigated by the Head of State for whatever reasons," said Michael Zulu, a popular Zambian musician who joined Kabwela's supporters at the court house.

Kabwela told Reuters the woman's family had taken the pictures and given them to the newspaper, and that since they were not publishable, she had sent them to government officials so that they could stop the strike.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda condemned the Post for circulating what he called pornography.

"It's clear what is coming out is that the state has no issue at all, they are fishing, really, they are fishing and are unable to pick the fish because they are fishing from a dry pond," Sheik Chifuwe, secretary general of the Press Freedom Committee.

The health workers' strike that led to the case ended on June 29th, after the government threatened to recruit health workers from neighbouring countries.

Source - REUTERS