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National Constitutional Conference adopts progressive media provisions from draft Constitution

(MISA/IFEX) - On 18 February 2009, the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Executive Committee adopted many of the progressive articles in the draft Mung'omba Constitution of 2005, paving the way for improved recognition of press and freedom of expression rights in Zambia.

The NCC Committee however, made submissions compelling both private and public media outlets to be impartial in their reporting. This replaces a previous proposed article requiring impartiality from only public media because they are publicly funded.

According to MISA Zambia chairperson Henry Kabwe, the provisions are progressive and MISA-Zambia is delighted that so many of them were retained. MISA-Zambia is an official representative to the NCC committee dealing with media reforms.

Article 57 (1) of the draft Constitution states that: "There shall be freedom of the press and other media," while section (2) provides that "Subject to this constitution, a law shall not make any provision that derogates from freedom or independence of the press and other media." The draft Constitution also provides for fair licensing of broadcast and electronic media and protects source confidentiality.

However, while these provisions have been adopted, they will undergo further debate when the NCC Committees tasked to deliberate the various articles reconvene through a plenary. The provisions would then be put to either a general referendum or to Parliament for final debate.

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