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Govt taken to court over harassment of journalists

by Staff reporter
13 Apr 2020 at 08:52hrs | Views
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe chapter) has approached the High Court seeking an order compelling State security organs to stop the harassment of journalists discharging their duties after it emerged that six journalists had been detained at police checkpoints since the lockdown came into effect late last month.

Misa yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court demanding that journalists be allowed to operate unhindered since government had classified them as essential service providers.

The latest incident involved the assault of freelance journalist Panashe Makufa while in the course of his duties.

"In light of the ineffectiveness of the public notice issued by Misa and Makufa in stemming the harassment of journalists and other media practitioners, it is clearly necessary for the court to intervene through the issuance of appropriate interdictory and declaratory directives or order," the submission read.

In its submission, Misa cited the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Media Commission as respondents.

Misa said the continued assault of journalists should not be taken lightly by the authorities.

"The widespread nature of violations witnessed so far illustrates the pervasiveness of the mischief which the applicant seeks to cure."

In a related matter, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said she was equally worried by the conduct of security forces enforcing the lockdown.

Speaking at a feedback meeting between Mashonaland West sub-committees and national COVID-19 taskforce in Chinhoyi yesterday, Mutsvangwa said: "Journalists are an essential services. We want journalists to be going around for information and distributing it to the people for coronavirus information that is required by our people to save lives . . . we understand that because of the lockdown they could not get accredited, they should use their cards without any problems from law enforcement agents."

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) said at least six journalists had been detained at checkpoints manned by police and military officers since March 30 when the lockdown came into effect.

Source - newsday

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