New York- US (PANA) -- The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned a government ban on the publication of Malawian weekly tabloid and urged the government to rescind t he decision.
In a statement obtained by PANA, CPJ's East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said: ' 'The Weekend Times appears to have been shut down without basis.
We urge the National Archives to rescind their order immediately and allow the weekly to continue publishing.
'' In a letter dated 28 Oct.
, the National Archives of Malawi issued an immediate s uspension of The Weekend Times on charges of failing to register the paper.
The letter cited the 1958 Printed Publications Act, which requires all newspaper s to be registered and to deposit a copy of each of their publications with the National Archives.
Under the colonial-era law, the National Archives can shutter publications for a n indeterminate period without appeal, local journalists told CPJ.
Blantyre Publishers, the owners of The Weekend Times and four other publications , applied to register all of their publications with the National Archive last month but did not receive a response, Managing Director Leonard Chikadya told CPJ.
Once an application is submitted for registration it is assumed that the publica tion has commenced the registration process and cannot face punitive measures according to the publishing law, Chikadaya said.
Blantyre Publishers' legal counsel has filed motions for an injunction in an eff ort to continue publishing.
Launched in 2009, The Weekend Times has seen its circulation rise from 3,000 to 14,000.
A tabloid weekly, the paper focuses on sports and entertainment, with investigat ive stories covering cases of fraud and sexual scandals of public figures.
The paper's ban comes three months after President Bingu wa Mutharika threatened to shut down newspapers he accused of lying.
At the time, two papers had cited a regional agency's report forecasting food s hortages in the country.