The arrest of MMPZ staff

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) deplores the arrest of Mr. Andy Moyse Coordinator of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) and three staff members of the same organisation on Tuesday 6 and Monday the 5 December 2011 respectively.

Andy Moyse was arrested in Harare while MMPZ’s advocacy officers Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda, together with MMPZ’s Public Information Rights Forum Committee Member, Gilbert Mabusa, were arrested in Gwanda.

According to a statement from the MMPZ Mr. Moyse is being held at Harare Central Police Station while detectives from the CID Law and Order Section investigate whether or not he acted in breach of Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) which makes it a criminal offence to publish or communicate statements that are deemed prejudicial to the state.

The other three MMPZ personnel are being charged under Public Order and Security act (POSA), for failing to give notice of a meeting held in Gwanda on November 24. This is despite the fact that the meeting was convened by the membership of MMPZ’s Public Information Rights Forum Committee for Gwanda and was therefore not a public meeting. The three are also being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for “participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.”

It is the VMCZ’s strong conviction that the laws that are being used to charge the four MMPZ leaders and employees are patently undemocratic and undermine the right of all citizens of Zimbabwe to freedom of expression as well as that of the freedom to assemble. These are rights that are enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution.

These rights are also internationally recognised rights in terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We therefore call for the immediate release of the detained colleagues. Where those in political power have a problem with a media story, a video production, they are free to approach the Media Complaints Committee of the VMCZ for redress.

The VMCZ also urges political parties in the inclusive government to revise their approach to matters that relate to freedom of expression and repeal legislation such as AIPPA, POSA and ammend sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that only serve to impinge on the rights of all Zimbabweans to freedom of expression and assembly.

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