Senegal: CPJ wants credible investigation into shooting of Journalist in Lesotho

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - Lesotho authorities should launch a credible investigation into the shooting of veteran editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, and bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.

In a statement, obtained by PANA in Dakar on Thursday, the press freedom watchdog revealed that Mutungamiri was in critical condition in a hospital in South Africa following his shooting by an unknown number of assailants.

Mutungamiri is the editor of both the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express and was said to have been attacked outside his home in the capital, Maseru, as he returned from work on the night of 9th July.

According to CPJ, his wife, Tsitsi Mutungamiri, found him on the ground next to his car after the shooting but the attackers did not rob him.

"Rather than dedicating their time to harassing the Lesotho Times, we call on authorities to thoroughly investigate the vicious attack on Lloyd Mutungamiri," remarked CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, Angela Quintal.

"When violence against journalists goes unpunished, the free flow of information is impeded, to society's detriment."

The statement disclosed that on 23rd June, Lesotho Police interrogated Mutungamiri regarding a news report about the head of the country's military and he was released without charge on the same day.

Also, CPJ said Basildon Peta, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Media Holdings, which publishes the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express was facing criminal defamation charges in connection with a satirical column about the military published on 23rd June.  

He was said to have been briefly detained on 6th July by the Police and later released on bail as his trial was scheduled to begin on 19th July.

''International human rights instruments and a growing body of international legal opinion clearly state that defamation laws can have a chilling effect on speech, hampering the right to freedom of expression and the right to be informed.''

''The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Pan African Parliament have urged African Union member states, which includes Lesotho, to repeal criminal defamation laws,'' the statement added.

CPJ also cited a report by Amnesty International, saying Mutungamiri was also charged with criminal defamation for critical reporting in 2014, but the case was never brought to court.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 14July2016

14 july 2016 13:26:44

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