The two, who were editor and reporter at the Standard, respectively, were being charged with defaming Munyaradzi Kereke, the chairperson of a Green Card, a health institution, over a story the publication carried in 2011.
The State had accused the journalists of breaching Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, but they sought permanent stay of prosecution and repeal of the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional.
Led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, judges who deliberated on the matter unanimously agreed that criminal defamation was unjustified and violated people’s freedom of expression, in addition to suppressing the media.
Instead, the court ruled, aggrieved people could file civil suits against journalists, which they said provided enough legal recourse.
A final order to strike off the law is likely, and the court invited the justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to oppose yesterday’s ruling if he wished.
Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, has already acknowledged that criminal defamation has no place in a modern democracy.Post published in: News