Exiled Zimbabwean journalist speaks out

Over the past five years, the Zimbabwean government has been routinely detaining, torturing and harassing journalists as part of an on-going campaign to stop them from reporting on human rights issues, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and the escalating opposition to President Robert G. Mugabe’s rule.

Repressive legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (2002) has made it a crime to practice journalism without a government license.

At the same time, journalists who include Geoff Nyarota, Nqobile Nyathi, Lloyd Mudiwa, Basildon Peta, Caroline Gombakomba and others have been placed on a list of people whose passports are to be seized should they try to leave or enter the country. The Mugabe regime accuses them of being traitors and of threatening the country’s national interests.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa reports that in June last year, President Mugabe signed the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill, which allows journalists to be jailed for up to 20 years for publishing falsehoods. The law, among other things, prohibits the making, publicly and intentionally, of any false statement about or concerning the President or Acting President if the person knows or realises that there is a risk or possibility of engendering feelings of hostility towards or causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of him, whether in his official or personal capacity.

In addition to all this, the ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs are currently deliberating on draft regulations that will require Zimbabweans to obtain exit visas before they can be allowed to travel outside the country.

Critics say the new passport laws are aimed at immobilizing journalists, human rights activists and opposition political party leaders in order to prevent them from highlighting government repression and human rights violations. The laws have been described as a serious and unacceptable assault on people’s freedom of movement.

The Index on Censorship, (November 2005) reports that at least 90 Zimbabwean journalists, including many of the country’s most prominent reporters, now live in exile, making them one of the largest groups of exiled journalists in the world. Some of the exiled journalists left as a direct result of political persecution, others because the government’s crackdown virtually erased opportunities in the independent press.

OhmyNews International interviewed Conrad Nyamutata, one of the journalists.

One Response to “Exiled Zimbabwean journalist speaks out”
  1. slynne says:

    As a long time watcher of the atrocities of the Mugabe regieme, I applaude every journalist, Zimbabwian or non, who speaks up about it. This problem has flown under the radar too long, and now Mugabe stands ready to become a historic human rights violator. Unfortunately, in the modern world, we never think about solving these issues until they recieve lots of media attention. By doing all of this terrorism against the media, Mugabe is insuring that no one will come looking for him… Yet. Unfortunately, he has forgotten that reporters love to write about injustice against others who work in the media. He has dug his own grave.

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