The introduction by Mozambican authorities of exorbitant media accreditation fees is an assault on freedom of the press and a blatant attempt to clamp down on journalists, Amnesty International said today.
Under new regulations, foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be expected to pay more than US$8,600 per year to report on the country while local freelance journalists will have to pay more than US$500 in accreditation fees.
“These new fees will only serve to prevent the media from reporting on Mozambique, even if they are not intended to achieve that goal. When local and international journalists stop telling stories about the country, due to the cost involved, it is the public that will suffer as a result of a lack of information,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“Mozambican authorities must immediately scrap these fees and allow international and local media free access to tell stories about the country.”
This is the first time that media accreditation fees have been introduced in Mozambique.
New national radio stations will be forced to pay almost US$35,000 to secure a broadcasting licence, plus annual fees to renew their licence. Radio is one of the biggest sources of information in Mozambique, especially in remote parts of the country where information is scarce.
“History has shown us that respect for freedom of the press has positive implications for development. Conversely, when Mozambican authorities use extremely prohibitive accreditation fees as a means of controlling the media, the end result can only be dire for society and development,” said Deprose Muchena.