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decision ready in AIPPA case before the African Commission
November 19, 2008
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,
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
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.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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