The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrests and harassment of Nkosana Dlamini and Andreson Manyere, both freelance journalists, who were covering the constitutional outreach process on Saturday, 30 October 2010. On the same day, another freelance journalist, Sydney Saize, was beaten up, robbed and injured in Mutare.
"We are worried to see in one day, as many as three journalists harassed and prevented from executing their duties" said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. "It is necessary that all political actors take concrete measures in order to sustain press freedom and freedom of expression".
According to Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), IFJ affiliate, on Saturday, 30 October, while they were covering the constitutional outreach process, Nkosana Dlamini and Andreson Manyere who were accredited by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) were arrested by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and detained overnight in police custody. They were released on Sunday after being charged for "criminal nuisance"under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after they were transferred to Harare Central Police Station.
At the same time, a freelance journalist, Sydney Saize, was severely beaten up and injured while attending a ZANU PF fundraising function in Mutare. He lost his money, his press card, a mobile phone and his reporting equipment during the process and is currently receiving medical treatment.
In a statement published today, ZUJ and the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) condemned the increasing threats against journalists in Zimbabwe. "As we approach emotive events such as the anticipated referendum and elections, we call on all political parties and organised groups to allow journalists to do their work professionally without hindrance" said Foster Dongozi, ZUJ General Secretary and SAJA President.
Regarding the next electoral deadlines, IFJ calls on all political parties to pay attention to the safety of journalists and to respect press freedom for the consolidation of the democratic process in Zimbabwe. "We would also urge authorities at police headquarters to conduct awareness campaigns within the force on the operations of the media" added Dongozi.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide