Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa says the law has to find a way of responding to the threat posed by online Journalism which he says threatens freedom of expression.
Mr Sangwa said the emergence of online media poses the greatest threat to freedom of expression because of the irresponsible manner in which some online media outlets are operated.
He was speaking in Lusaka on Thursday evening during a public discussion organised by the Law Association of Zambia and MISA Zambia on Freedom of Expression.
Other panellists included Daily Nation Managing Editor Richard Sakala and Media Consultant Kellys Kaunda.
‘Today you have got online sites like Tumfweko, Kachepa 360, Zambia Reports and Zambia Watchdog, these sites are a danger to freedom of expression, they cause havoc because they are not accountable to anyone,’ Mr Sangwa stated.
Mr Sangwa who is a State Counsel from Simeza Sangwa Associates said technology has gone ahead of the law hence to develop new responses to deal with threat posed by online media.
‘Unfortunately, the law is now trying to play catch up and we are not doing too good well in that regard. The challenge is how do you police the Internet in the era of self media regulation?’
He said some of the reports published on some online media sites are shocking, rubbish and destructive to society.
‘You might be reading a report online published by a Mr Evans Mulenga, for all you know that Evans Mulenga does not even exist , so how do you hold him to account?’
Mr Sangwa added, ‘in this era of globalisation, people reading those reports in America will believe, down here in Zambia we will know that this rubbish. For me the fact that someone does not want to take ownership of what they publish, it means their intention is evil. They have evil intentions.’
‘The law has to respond to this and when we talk about protection of the law, protection has to be balanced. As much as Journalists want protection from the law, I also want protection from the law because as a lawyer I want to protection the little reputation I have because once you trash that, I will not earn a living,’ Mr Sangwa.
And Mr Sakala said a number of legislation in Zambia make the practice of Journalism a high risk job.
Mr Sakala said the law on defamation, State Secrets and many sections in the penal code infringe on media freedoms and freedom of expression.
He called for Corporate Veil on newspapers publishers to be protected from litigation and liability as in the case of some Directorship in other corporate organisations.
‘The law is draconian. As a publisher, if I publish a newspaper article that incenses the authority, I can be arrested, the Reporter will be arrested including the newspaper vendor,’ Mr Sakala said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kaunda appealed for greater protection of Journalists in the course of their work due to unique role they play in society.
‘History tells us that in Hellenic times, people met in the Amphitheatre to exchange ideas but that was when populations were smaller and in today society, there are millions of people and the Amphitheatre of today is the media hence the need for protection,’ Mr Kaunda said.
Uhhhhhm..No mention of Lusaha Times?
Lusaka not as posted.
FREEDOM is NOT necessarily FREE. This includes FREEDOM OF SPEECH and MEDIA FREEDOM. No country on earth has the so called FREE MEDIA. They are all regulated and restricted. Including the boastful Western media!
Yes the amount of latitude afford to the media may be more in the West, but not even they are free to report irresponsibly throwing all Journalistic ethics away. In fact, reporting on matters such as those hinging on National Security and State Secretes is strictly controlled or prohibited—and every country defines what should be regarded National security or State secrete.
Neither can you get a pass on libelous or scandalous reporting. You get sued in no time and possibly lose your job. Brian Williams of NBC just got in trouble for playing fast with facts.
@Misango, why LT? We are here because they are good guys. We not on other websites. Are you demanding for owners? Ok here you go:
Lusaka Times aggregates news only as opposed to the mentioned media which not only aggregate news but also create it.
Fact is Online media is here to stay. If only ZNBC, Tim and Daily were credible, we would not be reading online news. But when you flood ZNBC with PF propaganda , we shall continue to rely on Online newspapers. I like Lusaka Time and the Watchdog
Mr. Obatala, yes it is good to have on line media. And it is good that government has not interfered like in China where all hostile media has been blocked. But there is a danger that our people will not sieve lies from the truth and this has a potential to cause problems for the Nation. It is through the online media that the IS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabbab etc are recruiting unsuspecting youngsters for terrorism. You may take advantage of this media to insult other people such as the President, but due look at the long term effects of your actions? Those reading such insults will it even further depending on their capacity to decipher things.
Someone send this man to the stone age. How does an internet forum pose a risk to freedom of expression? The Internet is the freest form of expression there is. Who cares if Mr Mulenga does not exist? It is up to us to judge the merits of the story he is telling. If they are falsehoods, the truth will always out
Please kindly analyse the implications. The media itself is harmless but it is the people who use it who pose a danger. Many people are irresponsible in that they use this conveyance to propagate hatred based on tribe or colour or even religion as we have seen with our Islamic friends. You cannot use the Post to do such things because the Post will not allow it for obvious reasons.
@splaka: Guess what contributed to the explosion of GENOCIDE in Rwanda? THE MEDIA in the form of RADIO! It wasn’t radio as a medium that encouraged and called for a genocide. It was SADISTIC and NAIVE people who used RADIO to inflame passions.
This is the same danger we face in the age of the Internet. The Internet and online media is NOT what is the problem. The danger lies with SHADY BLOGS who uses the Internet to spew their hate filled garbage and call it news. This, my friend, is what has the potential to cause irretrievable harm and chaos in our country.
People are reading all this divisive and hate mongering going on these so called “online news media” and for sure one day, God forbid, someone somewhere we decide to act on it. And ka-BOOOOM, genocide in Zambia.
Andime Aisha I think like you. Sangwa himself is a danger to freedom of expression. Here we express ourselves freely.
If a journalist is lying we quickly come in to expose a lie and reward him or her with insults.
Nobody is spared here.
It is only new comers like dull and greedy lawyer like Sangwa that find it strange to be challenged by unkind online characters.
He is broke. He wants some people to be sued so that he gets paid to defend them.
Latest news”Sangwapo exposed by online bloggers”.
Its true what sangwa has stated. There are misleading stories that are posted on line and people outside Zambia are busy reacting to false stories. Even this article has some traces of error in that Lusaka times is not mentioned in the storie.
If it were not for online media a lot of looting of GRZ funds would go unreported. It is because of the Internet we know how corrupt Pf is.
The INTERNET IS NOT WHAT IS THE PROBLEM. The problem is SHADY CHARACTERS using the Internet to spew all manner of hate and stare up dangerous passions! This where the danger lies, NOT the Internet as a medium.
Yes, the Internet is dangerous, terrorists operate on the net, you have instructions on how to make bombs. It’s up to the individual to chose what to assimilate
These are *****s who have benefited from corruption money believe you.
@Patrick even the stories of looting public funds are not accurately true because ACC has not pinned down anyone on such vices. They are mere rumours with no truth about the actual scenario.
S.bob ACC is a compromised organisation, they don’t investigate any plunder by Pf. And why are allegations not investigated, how else will this come to light is not through allegations. Just recently evidence came to light of kambwili stealing council land in luwanshia, has this been even looked at by ACC? No chance.
Lt is the best online news media just as confessed by Sangwapo.
If you have issues with online media you must be a baboon or monkey in the maize field afraid of being exposed.
Know what I mean.
Ba honourable what are you doing here?
Leave us in peace.
Online media helps Zambia in fighting corruption and effectively provides checks and balances than any other media.
It is just a matter of choice. To read online media or not.
Online media has a little more integrity than the politicians in Zambia.
Theirs always going to be some wayward blogs but these guys need not worry about their reputation if they do everything to the best of their ability with excellency and integrity.
If theirs integrity in your life, then don’t try and muzzle the press.
I agree with your comment.
ZNBC and other state-owned media should start reporting the truth; if they don’t,then online media will continue having more bloggers.
State Counsel Sangwa completely misled himself and his listeners at law and at large.
In one line he says Online media is a danger to freedom of expression yet in the other he says we need online media.
Given the choice between Zambian Watchdog, ZNBC, Zambia Daily Mail and the moribund Times of Zambia, there is no contest. Zambian Watchdog beat them all pants down and that is my preference. The ZWD folks are cheeky, unpredictable and plainly saucy and juicy! making the times we live in exciting. Can you imagine Zambia if ZNBC was our only source of information? LORD HAVE MERCY!
Only those with something to hide could be afraid of social media, otherwise, its the best thing that ever happened in terms of information sharing. Its such torture listening to ZNBC and reading the POST, even servants would rather watch Banja on Muvi.
Typical lawyer, Sangwa is thinking only in terms of who he can sue!!!!
The Internet is pervasive. The dark web is the real iceberg under the tip of the Internet tip. Knowing this should help us understand that absolutes are gone but it is time for vigilance in coaching our communities self-regulation and differentiating responsible from irresponsible actions by online tabloids. Freedom, as has been pointed out, is not absolute; it comes with responsibility.
I do agree with Sangwa zambia has become a lawless nation. Any one can write unreal story and go scortfree i pray some one should put his foot down and let sanity prevail, I have stopped reading one paper .
Incitiments for people rise up against each other on tribal lines surely that is backwardness which needs to be addressed , that is a rot not welcome in our nation
Its’ quite appalling coming from a lawyer. In this day and age of risk and media people have the right to look at other sources in search of the truth and not rely on one medium that might be full of propaganda. People also have the right to voice their opinions. We are living in a world that is advanced with technology and people are now more away and more educated to make informed decisions on their own as opposed to the government telling them what to do. The real reason is people can freely say what they want to air and the government is afraid so they come up with such stories. Why is it called Social Media to begin with? People can exchange information and knowledge on current affairs and what is going on in a nation. This is something one should not fear but embrace. 2016 viva!
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