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The Standard journalists arrested
June 30, 2011
Police on 29
June 2011, arrested The Standard journalist Patience Nyangobe, and
editor Nevanji Madanhire along with Alpha Media Group Human Resources
Manager Loud Ramakgapola who is representing the company.
The trio was
arrested in connection with the publication of a story carried in
their weekly edition of June 26 - July 2, 2011 titled; "MDC-T
fears for missing Timba".
They are being
charged with criminal defamation as enshrined under section 96 of
Law Codification and Reform Act and section 31 which criminalises
the publishing or communication of false statements prejudicial
to the State and statements "undermining public confidence
in a law enforcement agency the Prison Service or the Defence Forces
of Zimbabwe" as contained under section 31(a) (iii) of the
arises from the fact that the story says Timba
was arrested by police officers who included "the notorious
Chrispen Makedenge" when the latter was allegedly not present
and involved in the arrest.
and Ramakgapola were released last night while Madanhire spent the
night at the Harare Central Police Station.
deplores the use of criminal defamation laws as they are a major
obstacle to freedom of expression. This is in light of the fact
that there is the option of civil defamation remedies.
The use of criminal
defamation laws unnecessarily censures journalists in their work
and induces self-censorship, thereby restricting the exercise of
the right to freedom of expression.
If indeed the
information complained of is false then there are alternative remedies
open to the police like filing a complaint with the Voluntary
Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) or demanding a retraction rather
than arresting journalists. Demanding a retraction is more effective
in any event as it has a more direct impact on the integrity or
reputation of the concerned journalist or media house.
It is therefore
our humble position that the pursuit of criminal defamation is tantamount
to criminalizing freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution
of Zimbabwe under section 20.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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