The Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU) has condemned the recent assault on journalists by an inmate appearing in a Walvis Bay court in the presence of law enforcement officers.
NAMPU Secretary General Sakeus Iikela says the attack is an unacceptable violation of the rights of journalists to carry out their duties without fear of harm or intimidation.
“As a media professionals’ union, we are deeply concerned about the reluctance of the police to protect and ensure the safety of journalists when they operate in hostile situations,” Iikela said.
He added that the incident has heightened the union’s concerns, while calling on the Inspector General of the Namibian Police Force, Joseph Shikongo to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of journalists.
“The safety and security of Journalists is paramount, and any attempt to silence or harm them must be met with the strongest possible condemnation. Journalists play a crucial role in ensuring transparency and accountability in our society, and any attack on them represents an attack on the values that underpin our democracy,” stressed the Union Secretary General.
Iikela added that the attack on journalists by inmates raises serious concerns about safety at courts and the need for increased measures to protect those who work there, adding that there should be good standings to ensure that members of the media are safe to carry out their important and responsible work without intimidation, fear of retribution or violence, especially when covering protests or interacting with law enforcement officers.
“Violence against them shall never acceptable and must be strongly condemned by all,” he reiterated.
He has since called on the relevant authorities to ensure that measures are put in place to protect journalists in and around the courtrooms, and to hold accountable those responsible for the attack.
He further urged Shikongo to ensure that police officers are trained to respect the rights of Journalists and to take appropriate measures to protect them from harm.
This, he said includes providing Journalists with clear and unobstructed access to areas where protests are taking place, allowing them to report safely from the scene.
The relevant authorities must take steps to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to the attack, Iikela says.
“Therefore, the union stands in solidarity with the colleagues at Walvis Bay and supports the steps they have taken to bring the perpetrator to book, adding that the union will continue to work tirelessly to promote and defend the rights of journalists in Namibia, “ he said.