Media rights lobby slams police harassment on journalists

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THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)-Zimbabwe has condemned the continued harassment of journalists with reports of more reporters caught in the police crossfire with vendors.

This comes after police Friday briefly detained Community Radio Harare (CORAH) reporter Pauline Chateuka for filming them as they arrested vendors around Harare’s Copacabana bus terminus.

When the police noticed that she was using a video camera to record the chaotic events, one officer ran up to her and pushed her into a nearby police truck using his rifle butt.

Chateuka’s colleague, Joseph Andras was also reportedly accosted by some anti-riot police who ordered him to delete footage of the skirmishes from his cell phone but the journalist refused insisting he had the right under Zimbabwean laws to perform his duties in the manner he was doing.

Two days before, police also briefly detained editor Gilbert Nyambavhu accusing him of filming their clashes with some vendors in Harare.

His colleague Idah Mhetu was also detained.

In a statement, the media group condemned the acts, insisting that journalists had a right under Zimbabwean laws to do their duties.

“MISA Zimbabwe condemns the censoring of media practitioners covering developing events in the capital,” said the media group.

“The right to access information and media freedom as provided for in the constitution remains fundamental as the nation and the world deserve to know about what is happening in Zimbabwe.

“Police should allow journalists to conduct their journalistic duties without hindrance as provided for in the constitution.”

MISA-Zimbabwe also reminded journalists to “employ the profession’s safety and security measures while covering hostile situations”.

“Media practitioners are advised to also utilise the MISA JournoSOS App as well as the MISA Panic Button App in the event of any violations.

“MISA Zimbabwe staff is also on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty. The MISA Hotline is 0784 437 338.”