COURT RULES AGAINST REPRESSIVE MEDIA LAW
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that parts of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are unconstitutional, reports the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
The ruling quashes charges against two journalists - Geoffrey Nyarota and Lloyd Mudiwa - who were arrested on 23 April 2002 and charged with "publishing falsehoods" after their newspaper the "Daily News" mistakenly reported the murder of an opposition party member. Although the "Daily News" published a retraction and apology, the government pursued charges under Section 80 of the AIPPA against Nyarota and Mudiwa.
Since the enactment of AIPPA in March 2002, over 34 charges have been brought against journalists and other media persons under section 80, MISA notes. Most of these charges have been laid against journalists from independent media, creating the impression "that the new law [is] for the private media and others seen as belonging to the opposition and not for the rest of the media or society at large," says MISA.
Other sections of the AIPPA have come under heavy criticism from free-expression groups. The act gives the Zimbabwean government powers to decide who can practice journalism in the country, while foreign media companies are prohibited from owning local outlets, says the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC). In addition, the act creates a new Media Commission to monitor press complaints. All of its commissioners are handpicked by the Minister of Information.
Visit these links:
- Index on Censorship" http://www.indexonline.org/news/20030512_zimbabwe.shtml
- ARTICLE 19 analysis of AIPPA: http://www.article19.org/docimages/1313.htm
- MISA: http://www.misa.org/sadc_journalists/welcome.htm