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Draft decision ready in AIPPA case before the African Commission
November 19, 2008

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights' (ACHPR) legal secretariat has completed its draft decision in the case brought before the Commission against the Zimbabwean government challenging provisions of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

ACHPR Chief Legal Officer, Dr Robert Eno on 18 November 2008 confirmed to MISA-Zimbabwe in Abuja, that a draft decision had been arrived at on the merits of the case brought against the government by MISA-Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) challenging a number of sections of AIPPA. Dr Eno said the draft decision will now be submitted to the African Commission for its consideration pending a final decision in the matter. Details of the decision will only be known when the Commission makes its final decision.

MISA-Zimbabwe, ZLHR and IJAZ allege that provisions requiring registration and accreditation of the media sector by the state appointed Media and Information Commission are inconsistent with Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

Other cases before the Commission include that of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday; Capital Radio; and that of Andrew Meldrum.

Dr Eno said the state had filed its submissions on the merits of the ANZ case but was still to file similar papers in the Andrew Meldrum case. He said that the state was still to file its arguments on admissibility in the matter brought by MISA-Zimbabwe, Capital Radio Pvt Limited and Article 19 challenging the inconsistencies in certain sections of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) with Article 9 of the African Charter.

The process that cases taken to the ACHPR undergo is three-pronged and begins at the Seizure stag, which entails presenting the matter before the Commission. At the seizure process, there is need to prove that the respondent state that that the complaint raised is against is signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and that it state has violated provisions of the Charter.

The second stage is the Admissibility stage. At this stage the ACHPR declares a case admissible where the applicant has proved that domestic remedies do not exist, have been exhausted or are not working. In Zimbabwe's three cases, all the matters went to the Zimbabwe's highest court, the Supreme Court, signifying exhaustion of domestic remedies.

The final stage is when all the involved parties argue the Merits of the matters in question.

The Commission will conclude its 44th session underway in Abuja on 24 November 2008.


In 2000, Capital Radio in Zimbabwe began broadcasting from the Monomotapa Hotel in defiance of monopolistic broadcast laws. Security services raided the hotel and seized the equipment.

In June 2003, Andrew Meldrum, a freelance journalist, was abducted by state security agents and deported from Zimbabwe despite the existence of a High Court order which declared his deportation illegal.

The Daily News and The Daily aNews on Sunday refused to register under AIPPA choosing instead to fight the law's constitutionality and were closed down by order of the Supreme Court. The government confiscated 127 computers from the paper's headquarters.

Visit the MISA-Zimbabwe fact sheet

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