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April 02, 2007
Gift Phiri is reportedly in bad shape after he was severely assaulted
while in police custody following his arrest in Harare on 1 April
reliable sources MISA-Zimbabwe understands that Phiri who is being
detained at Harare Central Police Station can hardly sit as a result
of the beatings he was subjected to following his arrest and subsequent
has been reliably informed that his interrogators are demanding
the disclosure of the sources of the stories published in The Zimbabwean
for which he strings as a freelance journalist. The police are alleged
to have searched and confiscated a computer and compact discs from
of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights was this morning denied access to the
detained journalist by police at Harare Central Police Station.
Phiri who freelances
for The Zimbabwean which is published in London, was arrested at
Sunningdale Shopping Centre on Sunday afternoon. He was briefly
taken to Sunningdale Police Post before being transferred to Harare
Central Police Station.
who is representing Phiri confirmed that the freelance journalist
was being detained by officers from the Law and Order Section at
Harare Central Police Station. Muchadehama was not yet in a position
to shed light on the events and details leading to Phiri's
arrest as he was still to have access to his client.
MISA-Zimbabwe notes with great concern and condemns in no uncertain
terms the increase in the number of cases involving the wanton arrests,
detention and assault of journalists going about their lawful and
professional duties and demands that:
- the police
should immediately grant lawyers representing Phiri access to
- the charges
that Phiri is facing should be availed to his lawyers.
- the journalist
should immediately be produced before the courts as a matter of
urgency in view of the reports that he has been severely assaulted.
- the government
through the Ministry of Information should make its position clear
regarding the wanton, arrests, detention and torture of journalists
who are duly accredited to conduct their professional duties in
terms of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).
- the police
or any other security agents for that matter should desist from
the wanton arrest, detention and torture of journalists going
about their lawful duties and that those who are responsible for
these actions will personally be held accountable for their actions
as the crime of torture is an international crime that attracts
individual criminal responsibility.
Of great concern
to MISA-Zimbabwe is the fact that Phiri's arrest comes hard
on the heels of that of freelance journalist Frank Chikowore and
barely weeks after the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights' Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Advocate
Pansy Tlakula, sent an urgent appeal to President Robert Mugabe
regarding the deteriorating situation on freedom of expression in
to President Mugabe followed the severe assault and unlawful detention
on 11 March 2007 of Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and Tendai Musiyazviriyo,
a photojournalist and film producer who respectively freelance for
Associated Press, when the police disrupted a national day of prayer
meeting at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.
In light of
these developments, MISA-Zimbabwe is left with no option but to
request the Special Rapporteur to urgently intervene once more and
urge President Robert Mugabe to guarantee the security of journalists
and other freedom of expression activists.
requests that you send your letters of protests demanding the release
of Phiri to the following addresses.
Office of the President and Cabinet
Samora Machel Avenue/3rd Street
263 4 707091
11th Floor Mukwati Building
Telephone: 263 4 723653
Police General Headquarters
Josiah Chinamano Avenue
263 4 700171
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