ZLHR STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY FOR CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS
2 November 2021
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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.

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.