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COVID-19 Lockdown: Stop Harassing Journalists, Zimbabwe Court Orders Police

 

A Zimbabwean excessive court docket on Monday ordered police to desist from arresting, detaining or interfering with the work of journalists offering protection through the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and journalist Panashe Makufa had petitioned the court docket to difficulty the order following a string of incidents wherein police and different legislation enforcement companies harassed or arrested journalists whereas finishing up their duties.

“The High Court has directed that… arrests or detention or other forms of harassment must stop,” a lawyer for the candidates, Chris Mhike, advised AFP after the ruling.

“The police and all others who are working with the police in enforcing the rules of the lockdown have been interdicted from carrying out those actions that amount to harassment of journalists,” Mhike stated.

Asserting the ruling in court docket, Decide Jacob Manzunzu gave the police hierarchy 12 hours to tell its members and different legislation enforcement companies concerned in imposing the lockdown that the 2019 press card is legitimate.

Some law enforcement officials have raised issues over the expiry dates of official press playing cards, demanding that journalists produce letters of exemption along with the playing cards.

The federal government had categorised journalism as a vital service through the lockdown.

However the police argued that “journalists are not exempted from the lockdown,” claiming that solely journalists “from broadcasting and internet” had been exempt.

The controversy was laid to relaxation this weekend when the federal government exempted “the activities of persons as journalists, newspaper vendors or employees of such services” in its announcement extending the 21-day lockdown by 14 days to Could three.

MISA Zimbabwe’s govt director Tabani Moyo praised the court docket’s ruling, including: “We hope the police will ensure that no journalist will be harmed going forward. We don’t want to keep on recording cases of law enforcement agencies targeting the journalists of this country.”

AFP

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