The International Federation of Journalists condemned today the closure of the Zimbabwe weekly, The Tribune, which has been critical of Zimbabwe's media laws. The paper was shut down for a year on June 10, 2004, after a government order alleging that the weekly's publisher failed to notify changes in its format and its ownership structure to the governmental Media and Information Commission (MIC).
“The closure of yet another independent newspaper in Zimbabwe is a purely political act, attempting to silence dissent prior to the next parliamentary elections due in 2005” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We are additionally concerned by the fate of twenty journalists thrown on the streets”.
Attacks by Mugabe’s regime on the free press has scaled further heights following the forced closure of the country's only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, earlier this year. The regime defied several court orders to re-open the paper and any prospects of the newspaper re-opening have since been destroyed. All foreign correspondents have been expelled from the country and many journalists from the Daily News and several other provincial weeklies, that shut down because they could not meet new stringent regulation requirements, have been made jobless.
Zimbabwe's media laws, adopted shortly after Mugabe was re-elected in 2002, require all news organisations to register with the state-appointed commission. The Tribune plans to challenge the decision in court.
“The combined effects of these attacks against the independent press will open the door to more human rights abuses without scrutiny” said White. “The international community must react and condemn the use of draconian laws and arbitrary executive measures to silence media”.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries