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Zimbabwe16 April 2002

Repression against the independent press escalates: Nyarota charged

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16.04.2002 - Nyarota charged, a reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent briefly detained

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) expressed its indignation at the escalation of repression against the press. "A few weeks ago, the Daily News was threatened with legal action for allegedly publishing false information. The newspaper reported on a resolution by the UE-ACP calling for a new presidential election in Zimbabwe. The European Union confirmed the truth of this story to RSF," said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of RSF. "The Daily News is again being harassed. The authorities have begun a war of attrition against the country’s independent press. This is quite simply a governmental strategy seeking to exercise total control over information both inside and outside the country."

image 85 x 105 (JPEG)  According to information obtained by RSF, Geoffrey Nyarota, the editor of the Daily News, was formally charged with "publishing false news" and with abusing "journalistic privilege". Nyarota was taken to the main police station in Harare and briefly questioned on 15 April 2002. Geoffrey Nyarota was accused of publishing articles denouncing improprieties by the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, during the last presidential election. On 10 April, during a press conference, the Registrar-General announced results that were different from those announced by the national television channel on March 13, the day after the election. During this press conference, Tobaiwa Mudede expelled from the room a journalist with the Daily News who questioned him on the reasons for these changes. The next day, the newspaper published an article entitled, "Mudede’s Circus Continues".

In addition, Duminasi Muleya, a senior reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent, was arrested on 15 April, 2002, and questioned for four hours. He was charged with "criminal libel". He was accused of damaging the reputation of the president’s wife Grace Mugabe. In an article published on 12 April, Muleya told how the First lady’s brother tried to influence, in her name, a conflict involving a food company.

15.04.2002 - Editor of the Daily News arrested again

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested against the new arrest today of Geoffrey Nyarota, editor of Zimbabwe’s only independent newspaper, the Daily News, and called on the government to see that he was released at once. "Once again, the authorities have attacked the paper that is the main dissenting voice in the country," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to information minister Jonathan Moyo. Recalling that about 30 journalists had been arrested since the beginning of last year, he noted that it was the third time Nyarota had been detained in less than a year and that other journalists on the paper had been arrested, physically assaulted or threatened and the paper’s offices attacked last year. "This is harassment," Ménard said.

Nyarota was arrested by police at the newspaper’s offices in Harare on 15 April and taken to the main police station. He was detained under the security and public order law passed early this year by President Robert Mugabe’s government which provides for five years in prison for publishing "falsehoods." Nyarota is accused of publishing articles criticising the inefficiency and failings of the Registrar-General at the recent presidential election, Tobaiwa Mudede, who on 10 April had announced at a press conference different results to those announced by the government-controlled TV station on 13 March, just after the election. During the press conference, Mudede ordered out of the room a Daily News journalist who asked why there they were different. The next day, one of the paper’s headlines read: "Mudede Circus Continues."

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in the annual report
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