By Staff Reporter.
ABOUT 23 journalists were unlawfully arrested or detained while 12 were assaulted by either police or unruly political activists while carrying out their journalistic duties last year, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has revealed in its State of the Media Report.
Speaking on behalf of media stakeholders at a press conference, ahead of the World Press Freedom Day which is commemorated annually on the 3rd of May, Zimbabwe Union of Journalist (ZUJ) Secretary General Foster Dongozi said the number of journalists assaulted while covering events increased to 71% compared to the previous year.
Dongozi also urged government to consider licensing community radio stations. After 37 of independence, Zimbabwe is yet to license any community radio station.
Meanwhile, the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), a non-governmental organization which advocates for citizen rights to access information, freedom of expression and media freedoms said in a statement that it is worried by government’s threat against the media and its effect to citizens.
“MAZ is also concerned by the Zimbabwe government’s threats against media freedom, which poses a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to free expression of information and access to information both online and offline as evidenced by stern measures such as the blackout on social media platforms and the plans to enact laws that will hinder online activities under the guise of preventing cyber crimes”, read the statement.
MAZ also urged the Zimbabwean government to swiftly align the country’s media laws, policy and regulatory framework with the constitution and in line with the regional and international instruments which Zimbabwe is a signatory to.
This year’s Word Press Freedom Day global theme is “Critical minds for critical times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, while the local theme is “Critical minds for critical times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive Zimbabwe”.
The major commemoration event will be held at Harare Polytechnic on the 3rd of May were media gurus have been lined-up to speak on various topics that affect attainment of media freedom in the country.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This, in turn, was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
Statistics according to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that 259 journalists were arrested while 48 were killed globally in their line of duty.