By NATION REPORTER
THE Freedom of Expression Report (FOX) for the first half of 2023 has revealed that 61 percent of journalists feel that freedom of expression is not being enjoyed by both citizens and journalists.
The FOX report which is the perception of the state of media freedom, freedom of expression and digital rights is produced under the USAID funded Open Spaces Zambia (OSZ) project being implemented by FHI 360, Internews and local partners which are MISA-Zambia, Chapter One Foundation and Bloggers of Zambia among others.
According to the report which covered 283 participants across the country that included journalists, bloggers, journalism and media lecturers, civil society organizations and political parties among others, only 39 percent of the participants felt that freedom of expression was being upheld.
These statistics indicate a shift from the 2022 second half report which shows that 63 percent of journalists felt that freedom of expression was being enjoyed and 33 percent felt the opposite.
According to the research findings, media freedom and freedom of expression continue to be a grey area within Zambia.
And speaking during the launch of the report, MISA Zambia chairperson Lorraine Mwanza said the institution is confident that the insights provided by the report will play a crucial role in fortifying the democratic foundations of freedom of speech and assembly.
Ms Mwanza said the report also aimed to foster the growth of an independent media and safeguard the space for activists, human rights defenders, and opposition voices, thereby preserving the democratic space in Zambia.
“As MISA-Zambia we believe that creating a media-friendly environment free from legal impediments requires collaboration among all stakeholders and the government,” she said.
Ms Mwanza urged different stakeholders to work together in advocating for an environment that not only protects and respects the fundamental freedoms of the media but also recognises freedom of expression and digital rights as key tenets of any functional democracy.
And Internews Chief of Party Teldah Mawarire said human rights like freedom of expression should be seen and felt and not only talked about in the press and other foras.
Ms Mawarire said there is need for action from law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders involved.
“I also want to commend the government and other stakeholders who have worked hard to ensure that the enactment of the ATI bill reaches at the stage where it has reached,” Ms Mawarire said.
She called on all Members of Parliament to support the bill and put into consideration all the recommendations that were put across by different stakeholders.
This article is supported with the WAN IFRA Women In News (WIN) Social Impact Reporting Initiative (SIRI) gender equality, diversity and inclusion (GEDI) Information in this article does not reflect the views of WAN IFRA Women In News.