World Journalists Condemn Court Decision as Judges Tighten Mugabe’s Grip on Free Press

The International Federation of Journalists today declared that Zimbabwe had put itself “outside the orbit of democratic accountability” after the Supreme Court in Zimbabwe decided to outlaw journalism unless reporters and media have a license.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the government's right to stop journalists working without official accreditation from a media commission. The decision confirms the impact of tough media regulations introduced by President Robert Mugabe after his election two years ago that have “created a twilight zone for press freedom and journalism” says the IFJ. “The judges have now helped Mugabe to tighten his grip on the free press.”

The decision blocks the independent newspaper the Daily News, which had only started publishing again two weeks ago after a suspension of publication since last September. It restarted publishing after winning its legal battle against the government’s decision to close the paper last year. But the new Supreme Court decision means that if the paper continues to publish without a valid licence in force, the journalists may be arrested.

“This decision is another blow to free speech that puts Zimbabwe firmly outside the orbit of democratic accountability,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries