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CPJ joins letter to UN, AU rapporteurs over free expression in Zimbabwe

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and…

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights groups in an open letter to six special rapporteurs at the UN and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, expressing concern about the targeting of journalists and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.The organizations note that Zimbabwean authorities arrested freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and New York Times correspondent Jeffrey Moyo in the first half of 2021 alone, and said they were particularly concerned that the arrests and charges against journalists and human rights defenders were politically motivated and violated their human rights, including their personal liberty and freedom of expression.

According to a statement by CPJ,  the letter noted that the groups were encouraged by a January statement by Jamesina King, the African Union’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression and access to information, expressing concern about Chin’ono’s arrest, and the organizations urged the UN and AU special rapporteurs to follow through on that statement in light of the significant escalation in harassment since then.

It added that the groups also expressed concern about the proposed Patriotic Bill, a piece of legislation that seeks to prohibit public messages on international platforms or to foreign governments that the Zimbabwe government deems harmful to its image.

“The letter stated that, if passed, that law would be another vehicle to target dissidents, human rights defenders, and journalists,” the statement added.

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