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Zimbabwe13 May 2008

Editor of independent weekly freed on bail

Davison Maruziva, the editor of the independent weekly The Standard, was freed on bail on 9 May, the day after his arrest. He has been charged with “publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the state” for publishing an opinion piece by an opposition politician. He has also been found in contempt of court.

Harrison Nkomo, a lawyer who often defends journalists, was also released on bail on 9 May while in Parirenyatwa hospital, where he had been rushed with an attack of high blood pressure following his arrest on 7 May.

He has been charged with insulting President Robert Mugabe and undermining his authority for telling a prosecutor whose surname is Mugabe that his “father” should stand down.

Maruziva and Nkomo are due to appear in court again on 23 May.

9.05.2008 - Authorities arrest Reuters photographer and editor of one of few remaining independent newspapers

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the government’s obsessive hounding of journalists after the arrests of a Reuters photographer and the editor of one of the few remaining independent Harare-based publications in the past four days brought the number of journalists detained since the 29 March general elections to 12.

A leading lawyer who often defends journalists was also arrested for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe.

“Since 29 March, the authorities have been guilty of at least 12 violations of their national and international undertakings as regards press freedom, aside from their disastrous record of recent years,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Zimbabwean constitution and international treaties bearing the president’s signature clearly mean nothing to him. Those who defend the rule of law nowadays are clearly the journalists and lawyers who are in prison.”

Davison Maruziva, the editor of the independent weekly The Standard, was arrested on 8 May after publishing an opinion piece by Arthur Mutambara, the head of a faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accusing Mugabe of betraying Zimbabwe’s independence, ruining the economy and rigging the elections by means of fear and violence.

Maruziva is being held at Harare central police station. The newspaper’s group projects editor, Iden Wetherell, said it seemed he was charged with “false statements prejudicial to the state.”

Harrison Nkomo, a well-known Harare lawyer, was arrested on 7 May for “insulting the president,” fellow lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said. While defending journalist Frank Chikowore, Nkomo allegedly told a prosecutor whose surname is Mugabe that his “father” should stand down. Insulting the president is a crime in Zimbabwe.

Howard Burditt, a Zimbabwean photographer employed by the British news agency Reuters, was arrested on 5 May and was held without charge until the evening of 8 May. Reuters said he was accused of using a satellite phone to disseminate pictures. The Zimbabwean authorities maintain that use of satellite phones should be regulated.

In this country
14 May - Zimbabwe
Three journalists arrested, held overnight then freed on bail
21 April - Zimbabwe
Freelance photojournalist released on bail
3 March - Zimbabwe
Woman journalist freed after being held for three months
18 February - Zimbabwe
Reporters Without Borders makes three recommendations in open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai
9 January - Zimbabwe
Regional body asked to intercede on behalf of imprisoned woman journalist

in the annual report
Zimbabwe - Annual Report 2008
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Zimbabwe - Annual report 2006

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