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Zambia23 January 2003

Three journalists arrested, a fourth in hiding

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the methods used by Zambian police following the arrest of three journalists working for the independent bi-weekly newspaper The Monitor. The organisation has asked the authorities to drop the charges brought against the journalists, and to do all in its power to ensure that such measures are no longer employed against the independent media. Journalists are not above the law, but nothing can justify their arrest by armed men. As Reporters Without Borders states, according to the United Nations, "imprisonment in punishment of the peaceful expression of an opinion constitutes a serious violation of human rights". Reporters Without Borders also calls on the government to guarantee the protection of the The Monitor’s news editor, who is still in hiding.

According to Reporters Without Borders’ information, three journalists who work for the bi-weekly The Monitor were arrested in Lusaka on 21 January 2003 by armed police. The editor, Arthur Simuchoba, his assistant, Calvin Kaleyi, and chief reporter Chali Nondo, were released several hours later after being questioned about the paper’s publication, several months previously, of an article asserting that Harry Mwanawasa, the brother of the President of the Republic, Levy Mwanawasa, was involved in a case of corruption.

On 22 January, a fourth journalist from The Monitor, Douglas Hampande, gave himself up to the police. He was questioned for two hours. The news editor, Mervin Syafunko, has remained in hiding in order to avoid arrest. In an interview on local radio he stated he felt he was in danger.

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