21 January 1999


MISA concerned for health and well-being of detained journalists

Incident details

Mark Chavunduka,Ray Choto



**Updates IFEX alerts of 21 January, 18 January, 15 January and 13 January

(MISA/IFEX) - The following is a 20 January 1999 MISA press release:


The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) deplores the continued
detention of Mr. Mark Chavunduka, the editor of The Standard newspaper, by
the Zimbabwean Government. We are also shocked by the detention of a second
journalist of The Standard, Mr. Ray Choto. We condemn the Zimbabwean
Government for its ongoing contempt of:
a) Mr. Chavunduka's basic human and legal rights;
b) the Zimbabwean High Court; and
c) the various international human rights treaties to which it is a

We call on the international community, including governments, media
practitioners and human rights organisations, to use all legal means to help
secure the release of the two journalists and to restore their legal and
human rights.

Like many others, MISA is seriously concerned about the health and
well-being of the two journalists. Like many others, we also believe that
the two journalists are being detained for no other reason than using their
right to freedom of expression.

Mr. Chavunduka, 34, was reportedly yesterday handed over to the police for a
civil trial by the military who illegally detained him on January 12. But
even this cannot be confirmed because his lawyers and family have still not
been given access to him. Mr. Choto was lured by the police into presenting
himself to them yesterday on the basis of a now demonstrably false promise
that both journalists would be charged under the (civilian) Law and Order
Act, that they would have access to their lawers and families and that they
would be able to apply for bail.

The behaviour of the Zimbabwe Government is in the very least in violation
of Zimbabwe's international legal obligations with regard to the right to
freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples'

MISA will support the cause of Mr. Chavunduka and Mr. Choto and indeed The
Standard newspaper in this matter. We will further take up all their legal
costs through the regional defence fund as we step up every campaign to
isolate Zimbabwe internationally for continued human rights abuses.


Media Institute of Southern Africa
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Private Bag 13386
misaalerts (@) gmail.com
Fax:+264 61 248016

More on this case

"Standard" journalists' trial date set 15 March 2000 Tortured journalists' trial deferred 7 January 2000 Court clears minister of contempt charges; spares newspaper costs 15 March 1999 Court rules for journalists to seek medical treatment, state appeals 24 February 1999 IFJ condemns Zimbabwe for arrests and torture 12 February 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1999 Medical report details torture of two journalists 10 February 1999 Human Rights Watch protests new crackdown on Zimbabwe's independent media 10 February 1999 RSF protests deteriorating press freedom situation 9 February 1999 Three more journalists arrested 8 February 1999 ARTICLE 19 to support journalists' legal bid 3 February 1999 Newspaper director released unconditionally; government promises to crack down on bad press against military 27 January 1999 Police blockade peaceful protest 27 January 1999 Newspaper's managing editor appears in court 27 January 1999 NDIMA protests detention of journalist 25 January 1999 Fears for newspaper director high 25 January 1999 Journalists sent for full medical check-up amid disclosure of torture ordeal; further attacks on journalists; protest held in Namibia 22 January 1999 Journalists released on bail 21 January 1999 Detained journalists appear in court 21 January 1999 MISA concerned for health and well-being of detained journalists 21 January 1999 Journalists tortured while in custody 21 January 1999 WAN protests continued illegal detention of journalist 21 January 1999 Zimbabwean defence ministry continues to detain journalist 18 January 1999 Journalist still detained 15 January 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 Editor arrested 13 January 1999
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