Home 9 Media professionalisation 9 MISA Lesotho Statement on Recent Legal Actions Against Media Outlets

MISA Lesotho Statement on Recent Legal Actions Against Media Outlets

29 Feb, 2024
It is MISA Lesotho’s steadfast belief that an independent and unfettered press is indispensable to the functioning of a democratic society.

28th February 2024

As the Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Lesotho), we issue this statement to express our earnest concern regarding recent legal actions taken against media outlets operating within our national jurisdiction.

The initiation of legal proceedings, particularly defamation suits, against Lesotho Tribune by Mergence Lesotho, and the threat of a lawsuit against Newsday by Tholo Energy, underscore a matter of grave significance.

While MISA Lesotho acknowledges the right of individuals and entities to seek legal recourse for perceived grievances, we must carefully consider the broader implications of such actions on the principles of press freedom and democratic discourse.

It is MISA Lesotho’s steadfast belief that an independent and unfettered press is indispensable to the functioning of a democratic society. The role of the media in fostering public discourse, promoting transparency, and holding power to account cannot be overstated.

However, the threat of legal action against media outlets for defamation not only jeopardises their ability to fulfill their societal mandate but also poses a tangible risk to the principles of free speech and open dialogue.

MISA Lesotho recognises the complexities inherent in balancing the right to freedom of expression with the protection of individual reputation and interests. Nevertheless, we urge all parties involved to exercise prudence and restraint in resorting to legal measures to address grievances related to media coverage.

Furthermore, MISA Lesotho emphasises the importance of exploring alternative mechanisms for resolving disputes between media entities and aggrieved parties.

We wish to emphasise the urgent need to expedite national reforms aimed at establishing a Media Ombudsman tasked with mediating or adjudicating disputes between the media and the public, as well as intra-media ethical matters.

These reforms are crucial to achieving impartial, speedy, and cost-effective resolution of complaints against journalists and media enterprises, thereby fostering an environment of transparency and accountability without fear or favour.

Furthermore, MISA Lesotho stresses the importance of ensuring that these reforms explicitly enshrine press freedom and access to information within Chapter 2 of the Lesotho Constitution, which enumerates fundamental freedoms and rights.

Such constitutional protections are essential safeguards for the integrity of the media and the preservation of democratic principles.

It is imperative to recognise that resorting to legal action against media organisations in a reactionary manner not only strains their already limited resources but also jeopardises their ability to sustain daily operations.

This diversion of resources and attention can lead to a loss of focus within the newsroom, ultimately undermining the quality and independence of journalistic endeavours.

MISA Lesotho urges all journalists, media workers, and media houses across the country to stand in solidarity and defend press freedom, recognising that an injury to one is an injury to all.

We emphasise the critical importance of the media sector speaking with one voice to demand the expedited implementation of reforms that align with the will of the people, as eloquently expressed in the Plenary II report.

Issued by:
Kananelo Boloetse
Chairperson – MISA Lesotho

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

Share this

Related news

Boloetse warns media distractors

Boloetse warns media distractors

By Itumeleng Lekoatsa The Lesotho Chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Lesotho) has issued a statement of concern over the recent legal actions instituted against some media houses for alleged defamation. The statement, dated February 28, 2024, is...

Lesotho: Way forward in 2018

Lesotho: Way forward in 2018

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day 2018 [dropcap1]M[/dropcap1]ISA Lesotho is sharing its recommendations for improving media freedom and freedom of expression in Lesotho in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2018. You can also download a PDF copy to print and...

Local government election reporting workshop 2017

Local government election reporting workshop 2017

To contribute to transparent, accountable and credible holding of local government elections as tenants of peace and stability, MISA Lesotho trained 42 journalists to cover local government elections held in Lesotho on 30th September, 2017. The training was held...