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MISA files complaint about delays in issuing licence to radio station, problems related to broadcast laws

(MISA/IFEX) - The following is a MISA-Zimbabwe press release:

MISA-Zimbabwe complains to African Humans Rights Body

The communication on Capital Radio, filed jointly by MISA-Zimbabwe, Article 19, and Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, together with two proprietors of Capital Radio, Gerry Jackson and Michael Auret Jnr, challenges various sections of the Broadcasting Services Act as being inconsistent with the African Charter on Human Rights. Capital Radio, an aspiring commercial radio station in Zimbabwe was violently shut down by the Zimbabwe government and had its equipment confiscated by the police in 2000. The station had begun operating after successfully challenging the broadcast monopoly of the state owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in 2000. In pleading for the speedy conclusion of this matter, MISA-Zimbabwe argued that the matter is taking too long to be heard. "For the record, we lodged this communication in August 2005.

The ACHPR agreed to be seized with the matter at its 37th ordinary session which was held in Dakar, Senegal in November 2005. We filed our Admissibility Brief in March 2006 and the respondent state made its submissions in reply in September 2006," submitted MISA-Zimbabwe Legal Officer Wilbert Mandinde who attended the ACHPR 43rd session in Ezulwini, Swaziland.

MISA Zimbabwe further submitted that at the 40th Ordinary Session, the Government of Zimbabwe, which is the respondent in the matter, had requested for an adjournment after it realised that its submissions addressed the issue of merits and not admissibility.

During the 42nd Session in Congo-Brazzaville, there was a written undertaking by the respondent state to file the necessary submissions in terms of the ACHPR rules of procedure.

"We note with concern the fact that to date, the respondent state has failed, refused or neglected to file these submissions," complained MISA-Zimbabwe. "We verily believe that justice delayed is justice denied. In the circumstances, we feel the failure by the respondent state to file correct papers is an attempt to frustrate proceedings before this commission. This cannot be condoned."

MISA-Zimbabwe requested the Commission to immediately proceed to declare the matter admissible during this session. The Zimbabwe government, however, pleaded with the Commission to be given one last chance to file the submissions arguing that they had failed to work on the Communication as they were busy working on the harmonised elections.

Meanwhile the ACHPR has come up with a decision on another matter filed by MISA-Zimbabwe, the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). The decision can however only be publicised once it has been adopted by the African Union Heads of State Summit.

In this matter, the applicants had requested the Commission to make a finding that various provisions of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are inconsistent with Article 9 of the African Charter.

And in yet another matter, Dzimbabwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) complained to the Commission over the failure by the Zimbabwean government to comply with provisional measures issued by the Commission to the effect that the government should hand back to the owners of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, the equipment the police confiscated when they closed the Daily News in 2003.

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