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Zimbabwean journalist arrested on criminal insult charges

(IPI/IFEX) - The International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the arrest of NewsDay reporter Obey Manayiti on criminal insult charges brought by an ousted ruling party (ZANU-PF) official.

On Monday, Feb. 18, Manyiti was taken into police custody after having appeared at a police station to demand personal security.

The Zimbabwean reported that Manyiti had approached police because he was facing death threats from ousted provincial youth chairman Tawanda Mukodza. But Manyiti was taken into custody when he reached the police station, because Mukdoza had filed a complaint of criminal insult prior to Manyiti's arrival.

Reports say that Mukdoza had been sacked from his position as youth chairman for the Manicaland regions over allegations of corruption, nepotism, provoking divisions within the ruling party and insubordination.

That the police gave more significance to the insult charges than the alleged death threat is a troubling indicator for press freedom.

The Criminal Law Act, which provided the legal basis for the charges against Manyiti, has often been used to threaten and harass media practitioners in Zimbabwe, which remains one of the most tightly restricted areas in terms of press freedom in the entire southern African Region.

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