A Zambian journalist, Chansa Kabwela, is being tried on pornography charges because she sent government ministers photographs of women being forced to give birth in the streets because of hospital closures and strikes.
The prosecution has already started flailing, accusing Kabwela’s employer, The Post, of contempt of court because it published an opinion piece by Reporters without Borders.
Utterly ridiculous, but this case is an important test of how progressive Zambia’s government is, and how independent of government and church the judiciacy can be. The government has already failed in its basic handling of the affair, and its down to the judiciary now to protect freedom of speech from government interference – it’s an opportunity to set an historic precedent that shouldn’t be missed.
It’s appalling, absolutely appalling, that the Post has already been reduced to running a statement which says the photos were ‘in bad taste’. The only thing in bad taste about the photos is that the circumstances in which they could be taken were allowed to come about in the first place.
Kabwela faces a five year sentence if convicted. There’s an online petition here which will no doubt make no difference, but at least raise the profile of a shocking case that’s been mostly overlooked so far by the mainstream media. Ironically, for a case about photography, there aren’t even any pictures of Kabwela on the web barring the one above from the (Government owned) Times. Today’s story from the Post is here.