The United States warned its citizens, shortly after the release of the presidential elections which did not provide an outright winner, to be particularly cautious when using still, video or telephone cameras in any urban setting in Zimbabwe, or in the vicinity of any political activity, as this could be construed by Zimbabwean authorities as practising journalism without accreditation, a crime punishable by arrest, incarceration or deportation.
This was contained in a travel alert issued by Washington due to ongoing political instability following the 29 March elections.
The alert said US citizens should defer non-essential travel to Zimbabwe because of increasing violence and intimidation in the run up t the presidential elections run-off.
Viewing cable 08STATE51293, TRAVEL ALERT – ZIMBABWE
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O 141715Z MAY 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFIUU/NRC WASHINGTON DC//INFOSEC//
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RHMCSUU/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0430
INFO RUESBKC/ATO ASIA IMMEDIATE 1659
UNCLAS STATE 051293
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: TRAVEL ALERT – ZIMBABWE
¶1. This Travel Alert is being issued to update U.S.
citizens on safety and security concerns throughout
Zimbabwe due to ongoing political instability following the
March 29 national elections, and recommends deferral of
non-essential travel to Zimbabwe at this time. This
supersedes the Travel Alert for Zimbabwe dated April 11,
2008 and expires on July 1, 2008.
¶2. U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to
Zimbabwe. While the country prepares for a runoff of the
presidential elections between President Robert Mugabe and
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean security forces, including some
military and police, as well as so-called war veterans, are
creating a climate of intimidation and fear across the
country, particularly in rural areas and high-density
suburbs. There have been attacks on opposition supporters,
renewed farm invasions, and arrests of election officials
accused of vote tampering. There is a continued risk of
arbitrary detention or arrest.
¶3. Americans should be particularly cautious when using
still, video or telephone cameras in any urban setting, or
in the vicinity of any political activity, as this could be
construed by Zimbabwean authorities as practicing
journalism without accreditation, a crime punishable by
arrest, incarceration and/or deportation.
¶4. American citizens traveling to or resident in Zimbabwe
should register with the U.S. Embassy by completing a
registration form online at
https://travelregistration.state.gov. Registration enables
the Embassy to contact American citizens in case of
emergency and provide updates on the security situation.
¶5. As the Department of State continues to develop
information on any potential security threats to U.S.
citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information
through its consular information program documents,
available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In
addition to information on the Internet, travelers may
obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by
calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the
U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
¶6. Minimize considered.