10 February 1999


Human Rights Watch protests new crackdown on Zimbabwe's independent media

Incident details


(HRW/IFEX) - On 9 February 1999, Human Rights Watch expressed its deep
concern over the current crackdown on press freedom in Zimbabwe and
appealed to the government to exercise restraint and abide by its
commitments to democratic freedoms.

**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**

Four Zimbabwean independent journalists were detained by civilian police
on 9 February. Reporter Grace Kwinjeh, Editor Fernando Gonçlaves, former
editor Ferayi Mungazi and the chief editor Ibbo Mandaza of the weekly
Zimbabwe Mirror newspaper were taken into custody by an inspector for
the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Zimbabwe Republic

They were questioned in connection with an article about Zimbabwe's
military intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Published on 30 October 1998, the article told the story of a Zimbabwean
family who had received only the head of their son, without the body,
after he was killed in action in the DRC. Kwinjeh, the author of the
story, received threatening telephone calls after the story was printed.

All four appeared in court on 10 February. Charges were dropped on
Gonçalves and Mungazi, but Kwinjeh and Mandaza where charged with
violating Article 50 (2a) of the Law and Order Maintenance Act and
released on US$135 bail. They are required to register with the police
once a week. Their case will next be heard on 1 March.

Human Rights Watch is worried that these new arrests may mark a
crackdown on the independent media. Two other independent journalists,
Mark Chavunduka and Roy Choto, were arrested in January 1999, detained
incommunicado and tortured by military intelligence officials. A
doctor's examination after their release on bail on 21 January confirmed
their allegations of torture. Human Rights Watch wrote to President
Mugabe on 3 February and urged him to order an independent inquiry into
the reported use of torture on these two journalists.

" We wish to appeal to the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately put an
end to the current clampdown on the private media," said Peter
Takirambudde, executive director for Africa at Human Rights Watch.
"Zimbabwe must recommit itself to press freedom and constitutional


Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118
hrwnyc (@) hrw.org

Fax:+1 212 736 1300

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
More from Zimbabwe
  • MISA Zimbabwe State of the Media Report 2018

    In his inauguration speech on 24 November 2017 following Mugabe’s ouster, President Mnangagwa, said he would strengthen and ensure the pillars of democracy are respected in Zimbabwe. This raised hope that he would move with speed and implement outstanding socio-economic and political reforms ahead of the 2018 elections. It is common cause that the elections came without implementation of the envisaged reforms.

  • MISA Annual Report 2018

    The MISA Annual report for 2018 focuses on the lobby and advocacy work MISA carried out on critical issues throughout 2018.


    The Citizens' Analysis of Government Openness