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Media organisations back Daily News

Staff Writer

INTERNATIONAL media groups have voiced their support for the beleaguered Daily News and Daily News on Sunday.

The Worl

d Association of Newspapers(WAN) and World Editors Forum (WEF)have asked President Robert Mugabe to allow the papers to reopen.

In a letter to Mugabe this week, WAN and WEF said the closure of the newspapers violated the right to freedom of expression.

They urged Mugabe to ensure that the two newspapers were immediately permitted to publish without state interference.

“We respectfully remind you that the closure of the Daily News is a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international agreements including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the letter said.

“We respectfully call on you to do everything possible to ensure that the Daily News is immediately permitted to publish without state interference.” the media groups said.

WAN and WEF represent 18 000 publications in 100 countries.

Meanwhile, in a resolution passed on Tuesday at the International Press Institute (IPI)’s annual general assembly in Austria, members unanimously condemned what they termed the closure of the publication “at gunpoint” by the Zimbabwean authorities.

“Not only does the Daily News, the most vocal opponent of government policies, regard the law (Aippa) as unconstitutional but so do international media and legal experts,” an IPI resolution said.

“The IPI calls on the government to withdraw its police and allow the newspaper to continue publishing and to scrap all repressive media legislation,” it said.

The Media Caucus formed at the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva condemned the closure of the Daily News. The caucus noted that the Daily News entered a challenge in the Supreme Court to provisions of Aippa.

“Instead of considering the constitutionality of the law, the Supreme Court refused to hear the matter on the grounds that the Daily News was acting illegally by failing to register,” the Media Caucus said. “However, customary practice in such circumstances is for the merits of the challenge and the legality of the law to be examined before the requirement to comply is invoked. This is done so that the Supreme Court would not be seen to be implementing a law that could be unconstitutional. By its action the court provided an incentive for the authorities to close the paper.

“The action conflicts with the laudable aims of the World Summit on the Information Society which Zimbabwe government representatives are attending,” it said.

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