Free scribe calls for use of cameras, recorders to cover court proceedings

LUSAKA VOICE LIVE STREAMING - International media summit 2014, UN HQ New York.
LUSAKA VOICE LIVE STREAMING - International media summit 2014, UN HQ New York.

A freelance journalist has observed that the abolition of cameras and recording gadgets in courts in Zambia has made news from the courts to be boring and untrustworthy because of lack of picture or video footage to show the proceedings.

Oswald Sichone III of Kafue Estates in Kafue district submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in Kafue that the practice of blocking cameras and recording gadgets from being used in Zambian courts has worked to the disadvantage of journalists and members of the public in the country.

Mr Sichone told the Commission that members of public are denied opportunities to follow court proceedings from their homes because journalists are not allowed to film or record court proceeding in Zambia which he said was not good for the country.

Mr Sichone wondered why court officials were jittery to allow cameras and recorders in court like in other countries such as South Africa where some high profile cases are even beamed live on the national broadcaster and on pay television channels.

He stated that filming court proceedings would not in any way hinder justice from being administered as journalists are responsible professionals who know how to handle court reports.

And when asked by Law Association of Zambia President, George Chisanga, how he wants the court coverage to be done by journalist with cameras, Mr Sichone said instead of completely barring cameras in court, the judiciary can introduce the system of accrediting journalists to ensure as a monitoring measure.

Mr Chisanga noted that there was no law in the statute books of Zambia that bar journalists from recording or filming court proceedings but that the trend was just a practice by the judicial officers.

And Transparent International Zambia President, Lee Habasonda, wondered what was motivating journalists and other members of the public calling for the introduction of cameras in courts a practice which has not been used in Zambia before.

Mr Habasonda encouraged the freelance journalist to come out clear if his motivation behind the submission was to cure corruption in courts as many people have made similar submissions in various districts of Lusaka.

The call on the judiciary to introduce the use of cameras in courts and law enforcement institutions have repeatedly been submitted by petitioners in all the districts the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission has conducted public sittings.

The commission has held public sittings in Lusaka, Luangwa, Chongwe, Chirundu and Kafue districts to make an inquiry into the legal and justice sector so that they can make recommendations to government to reform the justice sector at the end of the sittings countrywide.

The commission has been inquiring into the accessibility and affordability of justice by the citizens and also makes inquiries into the practice of delivery by unanimous judgments by the Supreme Court of Zambia among many other things.