Uphold media freedom, govt urged

Source: Uphold media freedom, govt urged –Newsday Zimbabwe

In a statement released to celebrate World Press Freedom Day yesterday, the ZHRC said there was a need for government to uphold media freedom as enshrined in the Constitution.

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has urged government and other stakeholders to create an environment that fosters a free and vibrant press.

In a statement released to celebrate World Press Freedom Day yesterday, the ZHRC said there was a need for government to uphold media freedom as enshrined in the Constitution.

This year’s event is running under the theme A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis.

“ZHRC urges all stakeholders, in particular the government, to create an enabling environment that fully implements the rights guaranteed by sections 61(3) and (4) of the Constitution to a free, vibrant, and pluralistic media landscape. This will, therefore, support independent journalism and the rights of journalists and ensure their safety while reporting on environmental issues,” the statement read.

The rights commission urged the media to responsibly report and avoid incitement of violence and defamation, while also respecting individual privacy.

“In view of enhanced information dissemination in Zimbabwe through digital platforms, the ZHRC reminds the media and the public at large of their duty to uphold the constitutionally protected fundamental rights to protection from incitement of violence, advocacy of hatred and hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity as well as malicious breach of a person’s right to privacy.”

ZHRC underscored the importance of balanced and evidence-based reporting to foster public understanding and facilitate informed decision-making on critical socio-economic and political matters.

Meanwhile, the Young Journalists Association (YOJA) said the state of media freedom remains a matter of grave concern.

“Despite the principles enshrined in our Constitution, the reality on the ground tells a different story. The recent incident in the Midlands province where two journalists, Sydney Mubaiwa and Stephen Chadenga, were unjustly banned from covering government functions, serves as a stark reminder of the threats faced by journalists in our nation,” a statement by YOJA read.

“Such actions by government officials not only undermine Press freedom, but also instil fear among journalists, hindering their ability to carry out their duties.

“Furthermore, the enactment of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Act (Patriot Act) in May 2023 poses a significant threat to media freedom. This legislation criminalises actions perceived to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and national interest, potentially subjecting journalists to persecution merely for fulfilling their duty to report the truth.”

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