European Union (EU) head of political section in Zimbabwe, Lourdes Chamorro has reiterated the need for safeguarding journalists in their line of duty saying the profession is not a crime hence harassment by security elements should not be met with impunity.
Chamorro said, impunity for crimes against journalists is unacceptable as it leads to killings.
Speaking during this year’s commemorations of the International Day to End Impunity in Harare today Chamorro said EU is advocating that each country puts in place, a multi-stakeholder framework for journalist protection.
“Information is a public good and we must protect those who create transparency. Journalism is not a crime. Impunity is unacceptable. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial system. There is concern that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses.” said Chamorro.
Zimbabwean security forces have on many occasions unleashed violence on journalists carrying out their duties yet not any have ever been held accountable for these acts.
In 2019, officers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police threw teargas canisters at this publication offices demanding release and termination of pictures of them harassing vendors in central Harare.
Despite having made a police report, no action was taken by the authorities to bring the errant officers to account.
Speaking at the same event Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa called on stakeholders to create an environment that promotes innovation and creativity among journalists and not one that stifles and suffocates them.
“So when we hear reports of intimidation of journalists and harassment, they greatly impact our work as Information Ministry especially now when we are seized with the engagement agenda. Zimbabwe also recognizes that impunity for crimes against journalistic practice in general constitutes an assault on the profession and hamstrings the ability of the state and society to self-introspect objectively and transparently,” Mutsvangwa said.
Vice-Chairperson of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) Loughty Dube said journalism cannot succeed when life is threatened.
“The practice of journalism cannot thrive under threat to life and livelihoods…. there is a high court ruling that compels state security agents to allow journalists to practice the lawful professional duties without interference” said Dube
Police national spokesperson Assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi acknowledged the key role played by journalists and media practitioners in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will continue supporting the media and ensuring their safety as they are going about their duties but please take note of the date, time and place.” Ass Comm Nyathi