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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe personnel denied freedom

(MISA/IFEX) - 9 December 2011 - On 9 December 2011, the state invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act against three Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) employees, effectively denying them their freedom after they had been granted bail.

Gwanda magistrate Blessing Gundani had granted bail of US$50 to MMPZ advocacy officers Molly Chimhanda and Fadzai December, and one of the organisation's members, Gilbert Mabusa, without setting any reporting conditions.

The state, however, invoked Section 121, which automatically suspended the ruling which would have permitted the three to be released on bail.

This latest development means the bail order has been suspended pending the filing of an appeal to the High Court by the state within seven days.

The three are being charged under Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act, which criminalises the organising of a gathering without notifying the police, and Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which outlaws the distribution of materials likely to cause a breach of the peace. The state has also amended the accusations against the trio to include an additional charge of insulting the person of the president under Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Chimhanda, December and Mabusa were arrested in connection with a community meeting on public information rights held on 24 November in Gwanda.

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