MBABANE: Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, a human rights lawyer in eSwatini said the media plays an important role in disseminating information and warned against the persecution of independent journalists.
Addressing participants during the official launch of the newly formed Human Rights Journalists for Southern Africa (HRJSA) on Monday where he was the Guest Speaker, the human rights lawyer said the organization has been launched at a time when journalists in the SADC region are being persecuted for conducting their journalistic duties. He said it was encouraging to see journalists forming a collaboration through this organization to report specifically on human rights violations.
“This organization has been established at a time when the region is facing human rights violations including the persecution of journalists hence it was of paramount important to launch such organization. Journalists are the voice of the voiceless, they give the powerless a platform to speak to those in power. In this regard, human rights reporting does not only empower human lawyers with information to know what is happening on the ground but even those in political positions. We therefore call upon governments not to treat journalists as their enemies, once a journalist report about issues, those in power should address those issues” said the human rights lawyer.
The officially launch of the organization that was held via zoom, was attended by independent journalists from Botswana, South Africa, eSwatini and other countries in the SADC region.
Botswana based journalist Queen Morsawe, the Acting Secretary General of the organization who was the program director thanked all participants for attending the launch. On Sunday, she told SABC during an interview that the organization seeks to enhance investigative journalism on human rights reporting and promote collaborations among journalists to expose human rights violations in their countries, she was interviewed by Peter Ndoro.
Addressing participants, Zweli Martin Dlamini, the Acting President of the Human Rights Journalists for Southern Africa emphasized the importance of unity among independent journalists to speak in one voice against any forms of injustice including human rights violations. He noted that the organization was being launched at a time when Zimbabwean investigative journalist Hopewell Chinono was behind bars and a newsroom of an independent newspaper was bombed in Mozambique.
“We cannot forget the recent incident in Mozambique where a newsroom of an independent newspaper was bombed. This proved that journalists are under extreme danger for exposing corruption in their countries” he said.
Human Rights Lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi