Media lawyers petition parliament

THE Zimbabwe Media Lawyers Network has adopted a resolution calling on parliament to amend or repeal laws that militate against media freedom. In a statement released at its annual conference in

Masvingo on Sunday, the network said the state must equip the courts and other departments so that they function effectively when dealing with the media.

“The state is called upon to ensure that its organs are properly equipped and have the resources to function effectively in discharging its duties,” the body said.

The legislature was challenged to scrap laws that hinder freedom of expression.

“Parliament must be urged to amend or repeal current laws like the Broadcasting Services Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa),” read the statement.

“In achieving this, MPs are encouraged to consult stakeholders in coming up with a new legislative regime.”

The judiciary was also challenged to deal with issues involving freedom of expression timeously.

“The judiciary is called upon to speedily depose with matters of public interest brought before it such as freedom of expression or fundamental human rights,” the lawyers said.

The network urged media practitioners to resort to international treaties that protect media freedom if the country’s laws fail to do so.

“In the absence of effective domestic remedies and/or their exhaustion,” the network said, “international bodies such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights should be resorted to.”

The network was formed in 2002 to mobilise Zimbabwean lawyers in defence of the media and freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, media groups yesterday issued a joint statement saying the media situation in the country was “anarchic”.

“Media organisations in Zimbabwe commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3 in a media environment that can be best described as anarchic,” the statement said.

The media groups include the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe. – Staff Writer.