Windhoek, May 3–The safety of journalists and media workers, online and offline, is one of the key agenda points that enjoyed prominence at the celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day being hosted in Namibia, on Monday 3 2021.
As the celebration of global press freedom peaks in Windhoek, the Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU) is alerted to the incidents happening in Iceland, a country which is fast becoming unsafe for journalists to work in.
NAMPU has been reliably informed that since news of Namibia’s biggest known corruption scandal – Fishrot – implicating prominent politicians and large corporations broke in November 2019, journalists working on the story in Iceland have faced a sustained campaign of bullying and harassment.
The Icelandic company at the centre of the corruption allegations, Samherji, has used various tactics to intimidate reporters including spreading disinformation, launching attack videos, and instances of direct harassment, in a bid to silence claims about the company’s alleged corrupt activities in Namibia.
NAMPU condemns Samherji’s actions in this regard and urges the company to immediately stop the harassment of journalists working on the Fishrot story.
The company, while having the right to respond to the claims against it, should not seek to suppress public scrutiny of its role in the Fishrot scandal.
We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Iceland who have now fallen victim to Samherji’s intimidation and harassment because of their work on the Fishrot corruption.
In addition, we call on the employers of journalists and the authorities dealing with media freedom in Iceland to do their utmost to ensure reporters can continue to work in the public interest by exposing corruption.
Journalists should also have the right to defend themselves against Samherji’s attacks on their own social media accounts.
Lastly, we encourage journalists around the world, and especially in Europe, to offer their support to their Icelandic colleagues and condemn intimidation from commercial entities.
Helgi Seljan and Adalsteinn Kjartansson are journalists working for RUV, Iceland’s public broadcaster. At the end of 2019, Seljan and Kjartansson reported for the documentary series Kveikur