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Mozambique: MDM warns of a “huge setback” in proposed media laws – DW

The future of press freedom worries the MDM and MISA Mozambique. The proposed media law allows for defamation-of-the-president proceedings without evidence. Draft broadcasting law limits foreign broadcasters.

According to the government’s proposal, the media can be convicted of defamation without proof of the truth of the facts if the victim is the President of the Republic or a foreign head of state or his or her representative. Media outlets with three convictions for defamation or slander within a five-year period would risk being suspended for up to one month, in the case of a daily newspaper.

The legislation, to which DW Africa has had access, also includes several articles that would substantially limit foreign radio broadcasts in the country.

Open signal broadcasts from foreign media would be prohibited. In addition, national stations could not retransmit programmes from international broadcasters such as Deutsche Welle Africa, Radio France International or Voice of America (VOA), either live or recorded. The only exceptions would be music, sports, films and TV series.

International broadcasts prohibited

President of the Superior Council for Social Communication, Tomás Vieira Mário, told DW Africa that foreign FM radio broadcasts and television broadcasts from bodies such as RTP Africa or the BBC would end.

“I think [that these will stop broadcasting]. I think the law [focuses] on these types of very special and specific open signal cases from foreign broadcasters. I think that, if the law is passed, they will stop broadcasting to Mozambique. We have many foreign open signal broadcasts in Mozambique,” Tomás Vieira Mário said.

The new measures would not stop there. The government’s proposals also states that each international body may have a maximum of only two correspondents throughout the country.

Fernando Bismarque

If the new proposals are approved, it will be a “big setback” in relation to the democratic gains achieved in Mozambique, says Fernando Bismarque, deputy and spokesperson for the opposition party, Democratic Movement of Mozambique.

Bismarque told DW Africa that these proposals would make freedom of the press, one of the great gains of Mozambican democracy, impossible.

“In fact, this impediment to the transmission of international channels in our territory is a huge setback,” says Bismarque. “It demonstrates that there is an ideological patrol and the capture of the national press. This is a danger to the democracy that has cost Mozambicans a lot of blood.”

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