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SADC urged to reprehend Mugabe over surge in press freedom violations

(RSF/IFEX) - 12 August 2011 - Reporters Without Borders calls on the heads of state and government attending the Southern African Development Community summit being held in the Angolan capital of Luanda from 14 to 19 August to examine the situation of the media in Zimbabwe, where press freedom violations are increasing at an alarming rate.

In the past month alone, Reporters Without Borders has tallied more than 11 violations of the freedom or safety of journalists, all of which have remained unpunished.

"With apparently isolated incidents and outright manoeuvres by the government to bring critical news media to heel, press freedom violations have grown significantly in Zimbabwe in recent weeks," Reporters Without Borders said. "This is disturbing at a time when Robert Mugabe is trying to rush the organizing of the presidential election and the national unity government is steadily falling apart.

"Elected in 2009, this government brought a few months of hope for journalists after a dark decade for freedom of expression. But the surge in cases of violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrests of journalists and the persistent climate of impunity is forcing them to censor themselves. The SADC must prevent Zimbabwe from relapsing into another period of harsh repression for independent media and journalists."

In one of the latest cases, police in the southwestern city of Bulawayo arrested Richard Muponde of the independent newspaper NewsDay on 28 July and charged him with defaming Christopher Mangisi, a state employee who is being prosecuted for allegedly swindling an elderly woman. According to Mangisi, Muponde should have interviewed him before writing his allegedly libellous article. The prosecutor eventually dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

Click here to read the full statement
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