Reporters Without Borders condemns a police raid on the Harare headquarters of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper on 9 May and the arrests of its director, editor and news editor two days later. The three journalists were freed on bail after being held for 24 hours.
“Zimbabwean journalists continue to be the victims of police brutality and judicial abuses,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By arresting journalists arbitrarily and then conditioning their release on the payment of bail, the police and courts are subjecting the media to a systematic extortion racket. We again appeal to the authorities to stop these practices.”
In a report issued for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders said: “The year 2009 has given rise to new hopes for press freedom in Zimbabwe. After several years of brutal repression orchestrated by Robert Mugabe, the new government of national unity, led by former political opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, has the opportunity, if the head of state allows him the time and the means, to finally allow the media to grow again from the ashes.”
The report added: ”The urgent task ahead is for an easing of laws and encouragement to the independent press, previously one of Africa’s most vigorous, to get back on its feet again.”
Zimbabwe Independent director Mike Curling, editor Vincent Kahiya and news editor Constantine Chimakure were freed on 12 May after paying bail of 200 US dollars (146 euros). They had all been summoned the previous day to Harare central police station and arrested on a charge of publishing “falsehoods prejudicial to the state” under section 31a of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The charges were prompted by an 8 May article that named the state security agents responsible for the abduction of some 30 opposition activists and journalists, including Jestina Mukoko, from October to December of last year.
Police officers had initially gone to the newspaper’s office in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the journalists on 9 May, as a seminar was being held in Harare at the government’s request on the need to ease Zimbabwe’s draconian press laws.
Meanwhile, a court yesterday ordered the release of freelance press photographer Shadreck Anderson Manyere, who had been re-arrested by police in Harare on 5 May. Manyere was previously held for four months before been freed on bail on 18 April.
More information about Manyere