9 February 1999


RSF protests deteriorating press freedom situation

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is protesting the serious deterioration of press
freedom in Zimbabwe. According to RSF's information, on 8 February 1999,
four journalists were arrested by detectives in Harare. Grace Kwinjeh, a
reporter with the independent weekly "Mirror", was arrested in
connection with an article she wrote on October 1998 about the
involvement of Zimbabwean troops in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. She reported that the family of a dead soldier had received only
their son's head when his remains were returned to them for burial. The
same day, the "Mirror"'s news editor Fernando Goncalves, publisher Ibbo
Mandaza and another contributor to the weekly, Farai Mungazi, were also
arrested and questioned about the same article. Later in the day,
Goncalves and Mungazi were released.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 9 February, 8 February, 3 February, 29 January,
27 January, 25 January, 22 January, 21 January, 18 January, 15 January
and 13 January 1999**

Earlier, on 5 January, in "The Herald" newspaper, Minister of
Information Chen Chimutengwende stated his intention to reform the laws
governing the independent press. He said he wanted to "prohibit national
newspapers from receiving foreign donations," "change legislation on the
press" and "reinforce legislation about slander." The statements came in
the midst of a tense context, after a series of recent cases of torture
and illegal arrests of journalists. President Mugabe expressed deep
concern regarding what he qualified as "acts of sabotage."

RSF is worried about growing tension between the independent press and
the government, and fears that such statements may further damage the
current climate.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the President:

  • urging him to use his influence to secure the immediate release of
    the three journalists
  • expressing the view that, to your knowledge, they merely exercised
    their right to inform as guaranteed in many international treaties
    ratified by Zimbabwe
  • urging him to do everything in his power to pursue and punish those
    who tortured journalists Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto on 19 January.
    The two "Sunday Standard" journalists were tortured by army members at
    Cranborne military barracks, in connection with an article published in
    the newspaper on 10 January

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Robert Mugabe
    President of the Republic
    Office of the President
    Private Bag 7700, Causeway
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    Fax: +263 4 708 557

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris
    rsf (@) rsf.org
    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51

    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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