12 February 1999


IFJ condemns Zimbabwe for arrests and torture

Incident details

Mark Chavunduka, Ray Choto, Grace Kwinjeh, Ibbo Mandaza



**Updates IFEX alerts of 11 February, 10 February, 9 February, 8
February, 29 January, 25 January, 22 January, 21 January and 13 January

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ press release:

Media Release
12 February 1999

IFJ Condemns Zimbabwe for Arrests and Torture

The IFJ today condemned the Zimbabwe authorities for arresting and, in
some cases torturing, journalists.

Since the beginning of the year, seven journalists have been detained in
Zimbabwe, and at least two, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto of the
"Standard", were tortured. Chavunduka and Choto were charged under the
Law and Order Maintenance Act, as were journalists Grace Kwinjeh and
publisher Ibbo Mandaza of the "Zimbabwe Mirror".

Both the police and military officials involved in the detention and
prosecution of these journalists have shown disregard for fundamental
human rights, in particular standards relating to the detention and
interrogation of individuals.

Medical experts have confirmed that Chavunduka and Choto were tortured;
this included beatings and electrocution.

"It is not only disgusting that torture has been used against these
journalists, but it is shocking that Zimbabwe has cracked down on the
media in such a draconian manner. The attitude of the military towards
the civilian courts suggest that the rule of law is held in contempt"
said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.

"It is the journalist's duty to inform the public of actions by the
government and their agents. Coverage of alleged coups and of the
treatment of soldiers sent to conflict zones are legitimate journalistic
subjects," he concluded.

The IFJ urged the authorities in Zimbabwe to stop the clampdown on the
media and to prosecute the interrogators responsible for torturing

The IFJ is the world's largest organisation of journalists, representing
around 450,000 worldwide. It was founded in 1926 and relaunched in its
current form in 1952. The IFJ is recognised by the United Nations, and
in Europe it has status with the Council of Europe, the European Union
and the OSCE.


International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre, Residence Palace
Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155
1040 Brussels
Phone: +32 2 2352207
Fax: +32 2 2352219

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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