The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has labeled the decision to deny bail to an investigative journalist in Zimbabwe a vindictive move by authorities.
A High Court Judge earlier dismissed an appeal for bail by Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono which means his detainment will continue indefinitely.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed. We’re still waiting to see the judgment so that we can understand why the judge decided to refuse the appeal. But it obviously has implications in terms of Hopewell himself. Let’s just talk about the fact that he is in Remand Prison. At the Remand Prison in Harare, conditions there are appalling … overcrowded! We are talking about a COVID-19 pandemic. And clearly, we’re concerned about his health and so, over and above the fact that frankly what he did cannot be considered a crime,” says African Programme Coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Angela Quintal.
Chin’ono was charged with inciting violence after tweeting support for nationwide protests against government corruption and worsening economic conditions.
The government says he was not targeted:
Both the UN Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have called on Zimbabwe’s authorities to live up to their human rights obligations.
Quintal says Chin’ono is not the only journalist being harassed in the country.
“There’ve been several cases. In fact, Zimbabwe’s probably has the worst record in terms of attacks on journalists since the COVID-19 lockdown started in April. We have two other journalists currently in jail – Sam Takawira and Frank Chikowore – who are facing charges of contravening lockdown regulations simply because they were at a hospital to interview three opposition activists. We’ve seen other journalists who’ve been attacked, intimidated, harassed, and more recently we saw the case of Mduduzi Mathuthu who is in hiding, whose home was raided, sister was actually detained in an attempt to lure him. We’ve seen a very bad record of how the press is treated in Zimbabwe and I’m afraid the fact that Hopewell’s bail has been denied is obviously going to affect the media at large.”
SABC’s Sherwin Bryce-Pease reports from New York: