NON-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council executive director Engwase Mwale has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to consider pardoning journalist Derrick Sinjela on Africa Freedom Day, which falls on May 25.
The Supreme Court of Zambia in December last year jailed veteran journalist and blogger, Sinjela, 18 months for contempt.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, Mwale said her organisation was looking forward to seeing Sinjela walk to freedom.
“NGOCC recognises that this is a week that is culminating into Africa Freedom Day. As a country, we need to guard the freedoms that we enjoy but most importantly, also looking at aspects of human rights and access to social justice. At this point, we also want to wish our friend and comrade Derrick Sinjela a happy 55th birthday. Even as he is incarcerated, to us, he is a hero. He is a prisoner of conscience and we are learning a lot from his experience. We have been paying him visits at the prison and we are encouraged that he is always in high spirit,” Mwale said.
“He is always positive and he is also learning a lot from his life in incarceration. We wish to call upon the Head of State to seriously consider presidential pardon on our colleague and comrade so that on the 25th as he is looking at the list of the people that he is going to pardon…we are looking forward to seeing Mr Derrick Sinjela’s name being amongst those patriots to be set free and be able to continue his work of promoting human rights.”
Mwale said President Lungu would be showing everyone that he recognises the role of the media if he pardons Sinjela on May 25.
“It is very important that the President takes this as one of his important milestones. First and foremost he will be setting a tone that he is recognising the role of the media and he will also be setting a tone that the media space needs to be independent…journalist in our country should be able to exercise their right to share information. Once this gesture is done by our President, we will go a long way in showing us Zambians that he means well when he talks upholding human rights and that the freedoms as enshrined in our Constitution are recognised,” Mwale said.
“We understand that he (Sinjela) is even writing a book which he is going to title around his experiences in prison. As NGOCC, we would like to take this opportunity to recognise the role that the media is playing in the promotion of human rights and social justice. It is our conviction also that as civil society organisations, we need to work hand-in-hand in promoting human rights and social justice. We also recognise the role that the media play in promoting women’s rights and women’s empowerment.”