The opening paragraph of the letter reads: “We humbly direct ourselves toward your offices at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services of the Government of Zambia to register our concern over the limited access to the news website, Zambia Reports for internet users inside Zambia.”
The Zambia Reports editorial board added: “We first observed a partial interruption of service on July 16, which in the following days worsened, creating a complete block on our IP (Internet Protocol) address, denying Zambian citizens the opportunity to access the information and news that we publish on a daily basis.”
The Zambia Reports joins the likes of the Zambian Watchdog, to which the government also blocked access.
However, the Zambian Watchdog defied the government’s attempts at blocking the site through the implementation of proxies and a mirror site created by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
The Zambia Reports editorial board said it has not received a government explanation as to why access to the site has been blocked.
The Zambia Reports said observers believe this is an act of censorship.
“Given that the blocking of these IPs occurs within a challenging climate for journalism and freedom of expression, including arrests of at least three reporters in recent weeks, some observers have suggested that the blocking of websites constitutes an act of censorship.”
The Zambia Reports editorial board said freedom of the press as well as freedom from censorship is imperative to a democratic country.
“We respectfully remind your esteemed Ministry that freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 20 of the Zambian Constitution. The right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference; the freedom to receive ideas and information without interference; and the freedom to impact and communicate ideas and information without interference.”
Furthermore the Zambian Reports editorial board reminded the government that given the provision of the country's constitution, the government is in fact violating the online publication’s freedom of expression, especially since there has been no violation of any law or complaint.
“We view this online censorship as unlawful. Our business has additionally suffered pernicious damage due to decreased advertising revenue as the result of the unexplained decision to block access,” said the Zambia Reports.
The Zambian Reports thus requests a detailed explanation for the blocking of the site and immediately restore full access to the Zambia Reports website.