The Japanese Embassy in Windhoek on Tuesday dismissed claims by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia on Monday, which said a two-person Japanese TV crew was “detained” last Friday at Hosea Kutako International Airport.
In a statement issued on Monday MISA Namibia “strongly condemned the detention, questioning and confiscation of equipment belonging to journalists Motoi Araki and David Bush at Hosea Kutako International Airport.” MISA Namibia said Bush and Motoi were in Windhoek to investigate the existence of a munitions factory built by North Korea for a story the duo were compiling for Japan’s biggest television network, Asahi.
However, Shinichi Hamada the Chargé d’ Affaires at the Japanese Embassy in Windhoek yesterday told New Era “they were not detained. They were not put in custody, but were only requested to provide the Ministry of International Relations with the footage they took.
“They came to the airport at the last moment and had to leave their cameras and footage, for which they received receipts. We have requested the ministry to return the equipment as soon as possible. It is important to note that they did have the required media accreditation through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies, in addition to having authorisation from the Namibian Film Commission, for which they paid N$500,” it stated.
“We are concerned that our much-lauded media freedom is increasingly being threatened by public officials acting without considering the consequences of their actions, whether at national or international level. The lack of understanding of media freedom and the role of the media in a democracy hampers the relationship between government officials and the media,” MISA said.
“It is imperative the custodians of our nationhood are educated on why it is important for the media to play its role as informers, educators and watchdogs,” MISA Namibia said in its statement.
“Withholding information only increases the public’s interest and subsequent distrust. Deputy Prime Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah last month confirmed the North Korean built munitions factory, noting that it is not in contravention of UN sanctions against the former. Why then are journalists detained and equipment confiscated when they attempt to provide more insight on an issue of international interest?”
““We wish to extend our sincere apology to Motoi Araki, David Bush and Asahi TV for the disappointing treatment they received from Namibian authorities. MISA Namibia also reiterates our call to the government… to refrain from acting in ways that are a disservice to the media, and the public.
“They have the right to know, as well as the right to disseminate information. We, therefore, call on government to respect foreign journalists and to allow them to do their work without intimidation or detention,” MISA stated.