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Zimbabwe11 February 2004

Daily News journalists denied accreditation

The government Media and Information Commission on 10 February refused to accredit the journalists as long as the newspaper was not officially authorised to appear. The decision came within days of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a particularly harsh press law. Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay at the sheer relentlessness of a government campaign against the independent media, as journalists from the independent Daily News were refused accreditation.

"The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) forces Zimbabwean journalists and media to be accredited and authorised by a media commission, the members of which are appointed by the government. This is an unacceptable situation because it prevents the existence of independent media", said the international press freedom organisation. The commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso said that the simple fact that the journalists were employed by the Daily News made their accreditation impossible.

The anti-freedom legislative framework ultimately blocked any form of free expression, it added, pointing out that the law also banned foreign journalists from working permanently in Zimbabwe.

The Supreme Court declared The Daily News illegal on 11 September 2003, because the daily had not registered with the Media and Information Commission as required under the press law. The newspaper had refused to register because it contested the constitutionality of the AIPPA. Police acted on the judgment on 12 September, shutting down the daily and closing its offices. The High Court on 22 January gave the newspaper permission to reappear, but on 6 February, following the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the press law, the Daily News decided to temporarily halt publication. Its journalists had already put in their accreditation requests to the media commission.



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