Journalists under pressure as Supreme Court says constitutional challenge of AIPPA is not urgent


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Several journalists who were facing charges of contravening sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act got no relief when the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional challenge of sections of AIPPA was not urgent.

The court ruled that the journalists’ ability to report was not immediately threatened so there was no urgency to the case filed by three journalists working for international media organisations- Andrew Meldrum, Jan Raath and Peta Thornycroft.

The court was relying on testimony from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1192, JOURNALISTS FACE CHARGES AS SUPREME COURT SAYS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1192

2002-05-20 08:53

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001192

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PD (COX AND ROBERTSON), AF/S (KRAFT AND

SCHLACHTER), AF/RA (DIPALMA), NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM

SUBJECT: JOURNALISTS FACE CHARGES AS SUPREME COURT SAYS

CONSTITITUIONAL CHALLENGE NOT URGENT

 

 

1.   On May 16 the Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled that a

suit challenging the constitutionality of the Access to

Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is

not urgent. This means that the Supreme Court will not

take immediate action on the suit, and the journalists

such as US citizen Andrew Meldrum will face AIPPA-

related criminal proceedings before the

constitutionality of the Act is decided.

 

2.   On May 8 three journalists working in Zimbabwe for

international media organizations — Andrew Meldrum,

Jan Raath, and Peta Thornycroft — filed a

constitutional challenge to sections of the AIPPA.

Relying in part on testimony from Information Minister

Jonathan Moyo, the Supreme Court ruled that the

journalists’ ability to report was not immediately

threatened and that, therefore, there was no urgency to

the case. The Supreme Court will hear the case

sometime later in 2002.

 

3.   Andrew Meldrum, meanwhile, will appear in court on

May 22 to answer charges that he violated Section

80.1.B of AIPPA (“abusing journalistic privilege by

publishing falsehoods”) when he filed a story alleging

that a woman had been beheaded by ruling party

supporters. “Daily News” reporter Lloyd Mudiwa will

also appear in court on May 22, facing the same charge.

 

4.   Three journalists from the independent weekly

“Standard” — editor Bornwell Chakaodza and reporters

Fungayi Kanyuchi and Farai Mutsaka — will appear in

court on June 3 to face charges that they also violated

AIPPA. These three journalists were arrested on May

16, charged with “publishing falsehoods,” and released

on May 17 on Z$10,000 each. Their arrests came in the

wake of articles in the “Standard” about the

government’s purchase of riot-control vehicles and

alleging instances of corruption within the police

force.

 

5.   Zimbabwean reporters and editors, increasingly

under threat of being arrested and jailed for violating

AIPPA, take little comfort in the Supreme Court’s

determination that journalists’ ability to report is

not immediately threatened.

 

SULLIVAN

(18 VIEWS)

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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