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Zimbabwe court orders police not to harass journalists

Journalists have expressed concern that they were being hindered from preforming their duties during COVID-19 lockdown

John Cassim   | 21.04.2020
Zimbabwe court orders police not to harass journalists

HARARE, Zimbabwe 

A Zimbabwean high court ordered police on Monday to immediately refrain from assaulting, harassing and arresting journalists providing coverage during the coronavirus lockdown.   

“The High Court has granted the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe a relief order interdicting police from harassments, arrests and detentions of journalists while carrying out their lawful duties. 

“The High Court has also ordered police to recognize 2019 press cards and to not interfere with the work of journalists on the basis that their press cards were issued in 2019,” MISA-Zimbabwe said in a statement. 

The police have also been ordered to ensure that a statement by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) about the validity of the 2019 press cards is communicated to all police stations in Zimbabwe.  

ZMC is a statutory body that regulates the work of journalists and issues accreditation but are yet to do so for 2020. 

Several journalists have expressed concern that they were being hindered from preforming their duties during the lockdown, as police alleged their accreditation cards had expired. 

Police also indicated the presidium had not communicated that journalists were an essential service and should be allowed to operate during the lockdown. 

At least three journalists are facing miscellaneous charges for operating using 2019 accreditation cards and are out on bail.  

This prompted MISA-Zimbabwe to approach the High Court last week. 

Zimbabwe has so far tested more than 2,000 people for COVID-19. A total of 25 people have tested positive, three of whom have died and two of whom have recovered. 

On Sunday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the country’s lockdown for another 14 days following the expiry of the first 21 days at midnight.

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