Journalists Complain Over State Sponsored Violence

By Marshal Bwanya

Journalists have called for increased protection from state-sponsored victimization and intimidation which they say is endangering them during the course of their work.

The call comes in the wake of the 2 November International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a day which draws attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against media professionals.

Media expert and human rights lawyer Chris Mhike said although the nation was undergoing media reforms they was need for more to be done.

“It has been acknowledged by those who wield power that our laws need to be adjusted and amended so that the security we are talking about today is in fact accomplished at optimum levels.

“However, it’s unfortunate that the bills under discussion do not go far enough in terms of achieving the reform that we all aspire for.

“They also do not go far enough in terms of making sure that there is security for journalists, around the world you find out that media statutes will have specific provisions for the security of journalists.

“Our Zimbabwe Commission Bill does not address that question in any meaningful way. The Freedom of Information Bill also does not address the question for security for journalists”, he said.

National Peace and Reconciliation Commissioner Goeffrey Chada has attributed the continued abuse of media professionals to the polarisation in the industry.

“If certain journalists reported so adversely about say government they become victims if certain journalists reported adversely about a certain company they become victims.

“Much of the impunity comes from being identified as you are ‘opposition,’ you are this, therefore if you speak against us we will go after you.

“There is no truth, no middle ground, you are supposed to be supporting certain ideological sectors and that becomes the source of impunity,” he said.

Currently, they are three pending bills; the Freedom of Information, Zimbabwe Media Commission and Data Protection bills, all dealing with issues related to the media but which experts have said fall short of the target.

On August 16 ZimMorning post journalist Fani Mapfumo was assaulted by anti-riot police who were dispersing crowds for a banned MDC protest.

On August 23 journalist Leopold Munhende was also unlawfully arrested and detained by the police for filming a protest by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ).

Another Daily News reporter was beaten in the CBD recently.

In the past twelve years, more than 1,000 journalists have been killed for reporting news and bringing information to the public according to the United Nations.

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Wisdom Mumera

A journalist by trade, a writer by birth.

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