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Report on MMPZ’s participation at the 54th Ordinary Session
of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
November 04, 2013
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The 54th session
of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
was held in Banjul, The Gambia from 22nd to 5th November 2013. As
per tradition, the session was preceded by the Forum on the participation
of NGOs to the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights (NGO Forum) and the 28th African
Human Rights Book Fair, which ran concurrently with the NGO Forum.
of Zimbabwean civil society present included Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe (represented by Faith Ndlovu), the Human
Rights NGO Forum (both the local office in Zimbabwe and the
international office in London), Zimbabwe
Women Lawyers Association, and Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe.
government was represented by delegates from the Ministry of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
in the 54th Ordinary session of the ACHPR at a time when Zimbabwe
has adopted a new constitution that for the first time explicitly
recognises media freedom. The constitution,
which has an expanded Declaration of Rights, also promotes media
freedom and access to information. However, MMPZ’s participation
came at a time when laws that are contrary to the spirit of the
new constitution such as the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Interception
of Communications Act, the Broadcasting Services Act, among other
repressive laws, have yet to be repealed or amended. As a result
these laws continue to be used to suppress peoples’ freedom
to access information. For example, in July 2013 two staff members
from Kwelaz community broadcasters were arrested and appeared in
court for breaching sections of the Broadcasting
Services Act. Similarly, the airwaves are yet to be opened to
community and commercial radio stations; as well as private television
stations. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe’s call for
commercial licences is one step towards liberalization although
MMPZ believes that community broadcasting should be established
if Zimbabwe is to achieve a holistic three-tier broadcasting system.
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