Press Freedom in Zambia

Journalist protests against hospital strike

8th August

Update: Obscene Justice...

Zambia news editor on trial over medical mishap photos

The news editor of Zmabia's largest independent newspaper has been arrested and put on trial for distributing obscene images.

Chansa Kabwela, in calling for an end to the nurses' strike that has crippled the healthcare system in Zambia, sent the offending photos to the country's vice-president, its health minister, and various human rights groups.

The images? Two photos of a woman giving birth without medical help. They depict the baby in the breech position, with its shoulders, legs and arms emerging from the woman's vagina, but with the head still inside. The baby suffocated because by the time the hospital admitted the woman, it was too late for their surgeons to save the child, which died of suffocation.

President Rupiah Banda called the pictures pornographic and demanded a police investigation. Kabwela was soon arrested for distributing obscene material with intent to corrupt public morals, a charge that carries a possible five-year prison term.


17th November

Update: Obscene Justice...

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Zambia news editor acquitted of trumped up porn charges

A Zambian journalist has been acquitted of pornography charges after sending officials pictures of a woman giving birth in a hospital car park.

The incident happened during a nurses' strike and the baby died. Zambian President Rupiah Banda had described the photos as pornographic.

Chansa Kabwela said she had sent them in protest at the effects of the strike that paralysed the country's hospitals.

She would have faced a five-year jail sentence if convicted.

But the magistrate in the case said he had heard nothing to indicate that the photographs were obscene.

Outside the court, Ms Kabwela - who is news editor for The Post newspaper said: This victory to me is a victory for those that suffered during the strike, she said, quoted by South Africa's Sapa news agency: I was confident that I would be acquitted.

Ms Kabwela did not publish the controversial photographs, but sent copies to a number of prominent people and women's rights groups, along with a letter calling for the strike to be brought to an end.


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