Govts should guarantee press freedom: EU

The European Union has called upon governments that include Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety of journalists and to allow them to carry out their vital rolewithout fear.

Last Thursday,Zimbabwe joined the rest of the worldin commemorating World Press Freedom day amid misgivings frommedia practitioners and media watchdogs over the continued use ofrepressive legislations such as AIPPA.

In a statement, EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said governments should ensure that journalists report without fetters andfear of reprisals.

“The EU calls on all States to guarantee the safety of journalists andto allow them to carry out their vital role of reporting andcommenting on events in an independent manner, without fear of violenceand recrimination,”said Ashton.

While the country’s severally amended Lancaster House Constitution adopted in 1979 on the eve of independence espousesfreedom of expression, Zimbabwe is still far from achieving this.

In Zimbabwe, there is no outright censorship butjournalists who have in the past been subjected to imprisonmentpractice self-censorship as they fear reprisals from the government whichis dominated by Zanu (PF).

“Freedom of expression as enshrined in the Universal Declaration ofHuman rights entails everyone’s right to hold opinions withoutinterference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideasthrough any media and regardless of frontiers.

‘‘On the occasion ofWorld Press Freedom day, the European Union recalls these principles and pays tribute to all those who fight for the respect of freedom ofexpression and for free, pluralistic press and other media,” said Ashton.

“Censorship and harassment of editors, writers, journalists orbloggers are unacceptable, as are the use of violence and stateinduced arrests inflicted upon them. The EU commends the courageouswork of journalists who, in often highly precarious conditions, continue to provide independent information,” added the diplomat.

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