Zimbabwe Govt Using COVID-19 Regulations to Clamp Down on Press Freedom

Today, 23 May 2020, two journalists Sam Takawira and Frank Chikowore appeared in court for allegedly violating COVID-19 regulations.

CSMA is concerned by the detention of the two journalists pending bail determination. Further, the arrest is likely to have a chilling effect on the practice & work of journalists in Zimbabwe.

We are equally concerned that the arrests happen at a time when journalists are providing an essential service to the country by keeping watch of government excesses during this public health emergency.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of expression, David Kaye, had this to say in his 2020 World Press Freedom Day statement:

‘The criminalisation of journalism must end. That can start with releasing journalists from detention as a matter of urgency…detaining journalists runs directly counter to the State’s obligation to ensure an enabling environment for the media. At a time when disease outbreaks spread through detention facilities, detention’s cruelty is exposed, imposing an additionally excessive punishment that carries with it the risk of illness and death.’

For more read here: https://zimbabwe.misa.org/2020/05/23/journalists-charged-under-covid-19-regulations-remanded-in-custody/