The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the Africa Group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today condemned the arrest of three journalists from The Sunday Mail in Harare, Zimbabwe last Monday, 2 November, 2015.The arrest was conducted by the police on this UN Day Against Impunity for Crime Against Journalists.
“The arrest of the three journalists by the police is a sheer demonstration of intimidation and disregard to the freedom of expression and of the press by the Zimbabwean authorities.”said Maria Luisa Rogerio, FAJ Interim President. “Since poaching is illegal, and detrimental to wild life conservation, the authorities should have made good use of the story, by using it as a lead to arrest the perpetrators”.
According to the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) a FAJ affiliate “Sunday Mail Editor, Mabasa Sasa, Investigations Editor Brian Chitemba and Journalist Tinashe Farawo were arrested at their offices on Monday over a story alleging that a senior police officer was involved in elephant poaching”.
ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi, said the arrest of the journalists is a violation of Section 61 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, which states that every person is entitled to freedom of the media, which includes “protection of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information”.
The FAJ calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to release the journalists immediately and unconditionally and drop all charges against them. “We believe that the journalists who reported the story have no intention to defame any official, but rather did so in the interest of the public, all of whom have been gravely concerned by the unprecedented killing of elephants for illicit gains in Zimbabwe in recent times.” Maria Luisa added
The latest reports from Zimbabwe indicated that the journalists were late Wednesday granted bail at US $100 each and are expected to appear in Court on Friday, 27 November.“That is tantamount to intimidation and we call on the Government to stop all harassment of the journalists” Maria Luisa insisted.
For more information, please contact FAJ Secretariat: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents 50,000 journalists in Africa