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Zimbabwe13 September 2003

Police close sole independent daily

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the action of the Zimbabwean authorities in closing the Daily News on 12 September, saying it was clearly aimed at silencing the country’s only independent daily because of its criticism of President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Around 20 police officers forced their way into the Daily News offices in Harare on the afternoon of 12 September and ordered staff to stop working. Editor Nqobile Nyathi and production manager Simon Ngena were taken to the central police station at around 9 p.m. and were released shortly before midnight. Three policemen were still posted outside the newspaper yesterday, barring all access.

The police raid came after the supreme court on 11 September ruled that the newspaper was operating illegally because it had refused to register with the government’s Media and Information Commission. The newspaper has challenged the constitutionality of the new press law requiring registration.

Every since the Daily News was founded, its journalists have been harassed and detained by the police and subjected to other forms harassment by the authorities. Zimbabwe violates press freedom more than any other country in southern Africa and it is one of the toughest countries for journalists in the entire continent.

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