African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) and MISA-Zimbabwe jointly welcome the judgement delivered by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on February 3, 2016 to repeal Criminal Libel from the laws of the country.
The ruling followed a concession by the State that Section 96, which provides for criminal defamation under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (CODE), was void ab initio (from the beginning), which effectively brings the matter to finality.
Although this is a great initiative towards promoting and defending freedom of expression, we call on the Zimbabwean authorities to scrap similar laws in place that are used to suppress free expression and prosecute journalists.
Kindly find MISA-Zimbabwe’s statement below.
“MISA- Zimbabwe Position
MISA Zimbabwe welcomes the ConCourt judgment that vindicates its incessant calls for the scraping of this law from the statute books.
It has always been the position of MISA Zimbabwe that such laws have no place in a democratic society given that there are alternative civil remedies available to aggrieved parties outside criminal defamation.
Such remedies include filing complaints with bodies such as the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe and civil actions for defamation in courts of law.
While this judgment is a welcome development, MISA Zimbabwe remains mindful of the fact that there is a litany of statutes that can still be used to criminalise freedom of expression and journalistic enterprise such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Official Secrets Act and the Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, and the Broadcasting Services Act, among others”.