MISA-Zimbabwe statement on International Human Rights Day

MISA-Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2015 under the universal theme: Our rights, our freedoms, always.

human_rights2This year’s  theme is particularly relevant to Zimbabwe and  should spur the government to institute incisive measures that entrench the practice and enjoyment of freedoms enshrined in its homegrown 2013 Constitution.

This is of exigency considering that more than two years after the coming into being of the new Constitution, the country is still to align a plethora of laws that infringe on media freedom, freedom of expression and the right to access to information.

Resultantly, authorities continue to use the discredited Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), to license and regulate the media; the Official Secrets Act to broadly embargo information held by public bodies and the Broadcasting Services Act to hinder free establishment of radio stations.

The Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act to censor free artistic expression; the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, to criminalise media work and citizens’ right to free expression and the Interception of Communications Act to erode privacy of citizens’ electronic communications.

This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe’s Constitution now has a comprehensive Bill of Rights which has been hailed as meeting international, continental and regional instruments through its explicit guarantees on, among others, media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information.

MISA-Zimbabwe  urges the government to complement the progressive provisions of the Constitution by repealing or amending the country’s criminal defamation, insult and publication and communication of false news laws.

These laws impinge on media freedom, freedom of expression, free expression online, free flow of information and citizens’ right to access to information.

In addition, the government should license community radio stations while the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) should be transformed into a truly independent public broadcaster to foster citizens’ equal and equitably access to information.

This year’s commemorations coincide with the 50th anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  (ICCPR) and  International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Zimbabwe acceded to the ICCPR and ICESCR in 1991 thereby committing the country to adopt and implement the human rights provisions of the two Covenants.

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Post published in: Africa News