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AU to hear ANZ case
October 21, 2004

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [ZHLR] has resolved to take the issue pertaining to the closure of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday for preliminary hearing before the African Commission on Human and Peopleís Rights (ACHPR).

The matter will be brought before the ACHPR during the African Unionís (AU) 36th Session which opens in the Gambia on 23 November 2004.

The case follows the Supreme Court judgment against Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the banned papers which ruled that the company had approached the court with "dirty hands" in its bid to challenge the constitutionality of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

The two newspapers were closed following a Supreme Court ruling on September 12 2003 that the papers could not continue publishing without accreditation from the Media and Information Commission, (MIC).

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said he could not delve into the merits of the constitutional challenge because the company was operating illegally as it was not registered with the MIC.

Professor Michelo Hansungule of the Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa will argue the case on the preliminary issues of admissibility.

Hansungule said their arguments regarding admissibility had already been filed with the Commissionís Secretariat.

This constitutes the first stage under the procedure governing the operations of the African Commission. After the Commission rules on the admissibility it will call upon the complainants to make submissions on the merits of the case.

The case was taken to the African Commission after exhaustion of all domestic remedies.

This was after the Supreme Court refused to entertain a constitutional challenge against AIPPA by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe on the grounds that ANZ had approached the court with "dirty hands" in that it was operating outside the law.

Hansungule argues that the Supreme Court judgment violated the principle of right to be heard before an impartial court and the golden rule of equality of treatment before the law.

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