Zambian authorities block local access to Zambia Reports

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambian authorities have allegedly blocked local access to Zambia Report, a news website critical of the Zambian government. Recently, local access to another site, Zambian Watchdog, was also reported to have been blocked.

But the Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded that the Zambian authorities stop blocking access to critical news websites and halt their harassment of journalists accused of working with the websites.

"Zambia presents itself as a peaceful democracy, yet these attacks on media outlets with which government disagrees are actions that belong to an authoritarian regime," said CPJ's Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine.

Adding: "We urge government to talk with editors, journalism academics, and other members of civil society to find a common understanding of the principles of freedom of expression and the right of citizens to access information."

Zambia Reports, a news website launched in 2012, has reported that domestic access to its site was at first interrupted on last month. The managing editor of Zambia Reports said mobile phone users and customers of one Internet service provider were still able to access the site at that point. Two days later, however, he said the site was completely blocked domestically.

The managing editor told CPJ that the staff believed the government was responsible for the blocking.

The blocking of Zambia Reports follows harassment and obstruction of Zambian Watchdog, a site that documented alleged government corruption. The Zambian Watchdog is no longer accessible in the country.

Zambia Reports filed a complaint to the Zambian Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) about its blocking last month, but has received no reply to date.

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