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Commission to rule on AIPPA
May 30, 2007
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) faces an
acid test on its compatibility with the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights after its Commission agreed with MISA-Zimbabwe
that there was need to bring finality to a communication filed before
it in 2005.
Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ), MISA-Zimbabwe and the
for Human Rights (ZLHR) submitted a communication seeking a
prayer for an opinion by the African Commission on Human and Peoples
Rights (ACHPR) to the effect that Sections 79 (1) (on accreditation
of journalists) and 80 (criminalisation of falsehoods) of the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) contravene
Article 9 (on Freedom of Expression) of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights.
also prayed for a directive to the government of Zimbabwe to ensure
that the said sections are repealed or amended to expunge accreditation
of journalists and criminalisation of falsehoods.
on the matter during the 38th Session held in November 2005, the
Commission was advised by the then Director of Public Prosecutions
Loice Matanda-Moyo that AIPPA was being reviewed by the Minister
of Information and Publicity with a view to ensuring removal of
any infractions of the African Charter on Human and People's
Rights. It was conceded that the legislation violated the right
to freedom of expression
During the 40th
Session held in Banjul, The Gambia in November 2006, the ACHPR deferred
this Communication to the 41st Ordinary Session. This followed a
request by the government for the Commission to defer the matter
so as to allow consultations between itself and MISA-Zimbabwe to
proceed in a harmonious manner. The government had also argued that
the deferment "will aid in the confidence building necessary
for the consultative process".
on behalf of the complainants on 25 May 2007, MISA-Zimbabwe's
Legal Officer Wilbert Mandinde argued that no progress had been
made by the government in either amending or repealing AIPPA. He
submitted that instead the police had become more vicious in their
application of AIPPA.
circumstances, we request the Commission to come up with a decision
on the Sections under challenge based on our written submissions
to the Commission. This, we hope, will eventually put to rest the
merry-go-round situation which we have witnessed on cases involving
AIPPA in the Media and Information Commission, the Administrative
Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court over the past five years,"
and Legal Research Director in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Margaret Chiduku who appeared on behalf of
the Respondent State denied the assertion that no progress had been
made. Without elaborating, she stated that there is movement behind
She then advised
the Commission that the government had filed supplementary submissions
which she requested that the Commission should also consider before
coming up with a decision on the matter. The Secretariat of the
Commission denied having received the supplementary submissions
then ruled that it would now make a decision on the basis of the
papers filed by both parties.
chairperson, I am of the opinion that this Commission can make a
determination based on the information already provided by both
parties. We have to bring finality to this case," said Commissioner
and Dzimbabwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
co-appeared with Mandinde while government officials Lawrence Murasi,
Stewart Nyakotyo and Gill Makarati co-appeared with Chiduku.
is now expected to come up with a decision on the sections under
challenge. However, before their decision is made public, the Commission
will present its findings as part of its activity report for adoption
to the African Union Council of Ministers' meeting which takes
place before the African Union's Heads of States Summit.
a separate matter, ZLHR has requested the ACHPR to immediately serve
the government of Zimbabwe with a copy of Provisional Measures that
the Commission issued against the government in 2004. The ACHPR's
secretariat could not explain why the provisional measures were
not served on the government of Zimbabwe.
Measures are actions which have to be taken to avoid irreparable
damage or harm to victims of an alleged violation of the Charter.
ZLHR and the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe publishers of the Daily News and
Daily News on Sunday approached the Commission seeking an order
for the return of equipment which was confisticated by the police
when the Daily News was closed. Despite the existence of various
favourable court orders by the Zimbabwean courts, the police have
simply refused, failed or neglected to comply with the order.
The 41st session
of the ACHPR will end on Wednesday, 30 May 2007.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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