The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day under the theme, “Information as a Public good.”
ZimRights salutes the Zimbabwean media and journalists for their resilience in providing information. Access to information is a human right as expressed in various rights including freedom of expression and freedom of the media as enshrined is section 61 of the Constitution, access to information as enshrined in section 62 of the Constitution, as well as the right to the truth as enshrined in international law. The World Press Freedom Day 2021 theme shows the importance of information more so during this time of the Corona virus pandemic where information provision has become vital to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
As Zimbabwe tries to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and the massive human rights violations occurring, ZimRights notes that the right to information remains under siege in Zimbabwe. ZimRights has noted with concern the targeting of particularly those who provide human rights information. In 2020 52 media violations were recorded by MISA-Zimbabwe compared to the 27 in 2019 showing an increase in violations. Journalists such as Hopewell Chin’ono continue to face persecution with cases before the courts. State actors are still to comply with the high court ruling that designated journalists as essential services and allowed to freely do their work during this covid-19 pandemic.
ZimRights calls on the state to ensure that indeed Information becomes a public good through opening up the airwaves and licensing independent community radios, respecting and promoting information rights and allowing media practitioners to do their work.
ZimRights calls on the media to continue mainstreaming human rights issues in their reportage to empower the communities.