ZLHR statement on international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists 

ON International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the public to condemn impunity for crimes against journalists in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

Source: ZLHR statement on international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists – The Zimbabwean

ZLHR also calls upon the authorities to adopt reform measures to
prevent attacks and violence against journalists, and to investigate
all crimes against journalists and prosecute all perpetrators to
promote justice and accountability.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
is celebrated every year on 2 November. It is an opportunity for
everyone to publicly condemn impunity for crimes against journalists
and a chance to demand the prosecution of perpetrators of these crimes
by governments around the world. The 2021 International Day to End
Impunity for Crimes against Journalists seeks to emphasise the
instrumental role of prosecutorial services in investigating and
prosecuting crimes and threats of violence against journalists.

Journalists play an instrumental role in the effective functioning of
democratic governments. They promote access to information which
enables citizens to demand and assert all their civil, political,
social, economic and cultural rights. In sharing information,
journalists also enhance accountability as they empower people with
information. They inform the general populace of the decisions and or
actions or omissions of the executive and legislature.

All over the world, journalists and members of the media are
vulnerable to attacks and violence, there is a disturbing trend of
threats, killings, arrests of journalists, despite their vital
importance in democracies. These attacks have a detrimental effect on
the effective functioning of democracies, freedom of expression and
access to information. Violence against journalists has a chilling
effect on society and the journalists themselves. The heinous crimes
against journalists are seldom investigated by the authorities and
many perpetrators of these crimes and attacks are rarely brought to
justice.

In Zimbabwe, journalists have regrettably not been immune to some of
these attacks. Journalists have been exposed to arbitrary detention,
arrest and prosecution, assaults, harassment, abductions, confiscation
of their tools of trade and other equipment and threats of unspecified
action. There has also been a disturbing culture of impunity for
attacks and crimes against journalists which serves to embolden
perpetrators and encourages them to continue with their evil acts.
Journalists have often been victimised for their work in ensuring that
the authorities remain accountable to the public. ZLHR has provided
legal support to several  journalists who have been targeted when
carrying out their journalistic work. These include but is not limited
to Hopewell Chin’ono, Kumbirai Mafunda, Edgar Gweshe, Leopold
Munhende, Thomas Madhuku, Nyashadzashe Ndoro, Robert Tapfumaneyi,
Marshal Bwanya, Gaddaffi Wells, Adrian Matutu, Tongai Mwenje, Tinashe
Muringai and Desmond Munemo among others.

ZLHR remains concerned that the authorities are failing to fully
recognise that journalists play an invaluable role in exposing human
rights violations, corruption and other illegal activities by state
and non-state actors. Equally compelling is the failure by the
prosecutorial authorities to take any appropriate action to hold all
perpetrators of these illegal attacks accountable for their crimes.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against
Journalists, ZLHR reminds the authorities that ending impunity for
crimes against journalists is essential for the protection of the
rights to freedom of expression and access to information that enables
the enjoyment of all other rights.

Further, ZLHR reminds the government of Zimbabwe to implement the
recommendations made by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’
Rights (African Commission) on 7 August 2020 in the Resolution on the
Human Rights Situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe – ACHPR/Res. 443
(LXVI) 2020. The African Commission specifically called on the
government to guarantee protection of the rights of amongst other
players; journalists including from arbitrary arrest and detention.
Res.443 also calls on the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that
measures taken by its law enforcement agents do not lead to violations
of fundamental rights and freedoms, including expression, association
and assembly.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against
Journalists, ZLHR calls upon:

•    The public to condemn all acts of impunity for crimes against
journalists in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world;
•    The government of Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations made by
the African Commission in Resolution 443.
•    The  authorities to adopt measures designed to prevent attacks and
violence against journalists and other members of the media;
•    The authorities to investigate all crimes against journalists and
prosecute all perpetrators in order to promote justice and
accountability.

Zimbabwe Situation