By Moregiven Sithole
Harare, 14 November 2017
Human Rights watchdogs have implored the Zimbabwean government to immediately end the crackdown on media, saying the continuing harassment of journalists in the country is a clear contravention of the Constitution which was adopted in 2013.
Addressing a joint press conference on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Media Centre said the government should create an independent body to impartially investigate police abuses against journalists.
The calls for government to stop the abuse of journalists comes as an American journalist, Martha O’ Donovan was released on bail on the 9th of November after she was arrested on the 2th of November charged for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter and using social media to overthrow the government.
“The charges against Martha O’ Donovan appear to be baseless and arbitrary action to control social media.’’
This is the Zimbabwe government’s latest expansion of its dangerous campaign against media freedom,” said Dewa Mavhinga who is the Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
He said the harassment of journalists has been on the rise since 2016.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive Director, Blessing Gorejena echoed the same sentiments and urged for a speedy establishment by the government of an independent mechanism to investigate and remedy abuses by the police.
Earnest Mudzengi, executive director of Media Centre, said media freedom is the life blood of any democratic society.
He said the current muzzling of the media industry in the country shows that they are people who are against development adding that the newly introduced Cyber Security Ministry should be used to encourage media freedom.
“Instead of media repression and muzzling Cyber Space, the new Cyber Security Ministry should facilitate the enjoyment of free expression, right to access to information and other media freedoms.”
“Journalists who conduct independent reporting or dare to express critical views should not be punished for performing this sacred public duty,” Mudzengi said.