Media freedom advocates in Swaziland have criticised the kingdom’s top law officer for demanding a photojournalist give evidence for the police in a court case.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) described the move by the Director of Public Prosecutions as an attack on the journalism profession.
Photojournalist Simon Shabangu of the Swazi Observer is being forced to give evidence on behalf of the police against two school teachers who are charged with a public disorder offence during a protest march in Mbabane in February 2016. Shabangu took photographs of the demonstration and the newspaper published some of them.
Mbabane Magistrates Court has issued subpoena compelling Shabangu to testify.
Vuyisile Hlatjwayo, Director of MISA – Swaziland, said forcing Shabangu to give evidence on pictures he took while in the line of duty would compromise the ethics of the journalism profession.
On Thursday (11 January 2018) the Swazi Observer reported him saying, ‘Not only that, members of the public would lose confidence in journalists if the state would be allowed to call them at any time to give evidence on activities undertaken while in the line of duty.
‘This also has the potential of setting journalists against the public since people will no longer call the media to their events for the fear that they (journalists) would in turn testify against them in court. This is a very bad precedent we should all frown upon.’ he said.
The case continues in February 2018.
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