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EU Election Mission Warns Against Criminalisation of Media Work

EU Election Mission Warns Against Criminalisation of Media Work

According to Lusa, the European Union Election Accompaniment Mission to Mozambique has expressed concern over proposed media and broadcasting legislation before Mozambique’s parliament, noting that it are not in “line with international standards” in the runup to elections in 2023 and 2024.

“Our most recent concern, which is not directly related to the elections, are the proposed laws being discussed on media and broadcasting and which in our idea, which we have already conveyed to parliament, are not in line with international standards,” said Nacho Sanchez Amor, the member of the European Parliament who is leading the mission.

The mission head spoke at a news conference as part of a visit to the country to assess the level of implementation of the recommendations made by the EU Election Observation Mission for the last general elections, in 2019.

If the legislation currently before parliament is approved, he said, this could undermine the enabling environment for freedom of the press and freedom of expression and even the holding of free, fair and transparent elections.

“These projects will determine the level of citizens’ freedom of expression, speech and press freedom in the future,” he said.

He said he hoped that the whole of Mozambique society, especially media professionals, would be actively involved in the debate on the said proposals.

“Any law that is approved must undoubtedly be in accordance with internationally accepted principles on fundamental freedoms,” he stressed.

Specifically, Sanchez Amor warned against criminalising media activities, noting that this type of infraction should be dealt with in the field of civil liability, as is the practice in many societies. There are, he said, other ways to protect a person’s honour when faced with the bad professional work of journalists, namely a civil suit.

He said that he had received assurances from parliament that the concerns of several national and international bodies about the proposed laws would be taken into account.

Parliament has scheduled for the current session a debate on the proposals for the media and broadcasting law, which were already part of the two sessions of 2021 and which are being transferred to the new agenda following protest from some professional bodies and civil society organisations.

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Among concerns is the fact that the proposal advocates a media authority overseen by the government and the maintenance of the existing criminalisation of press offences, at a time when it is widely recommended that this matter be dealt with under the Civil Code.


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