10th January 2002
The London-based Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has welcomed calls by the British Government for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth, in the light of the Harare regime’s persistent attacks on press freedom.
The CIoJ, which recently announced the presentation of its Gold Medal award to “the independent press of Zimbabwe”, has repeatedly called on the UK and other Commonwealth governments to demand that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe honours his commitments to human rights and freedom of the press.
“The CIoJ is pleased that the British Government has at last come out with a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the Mugabe regime – something that we have been urging for a considerable period of time”, said CIoJ General Secretary Chris Underwood. “We particularly welcome Jack Straw’s recognition that harassment of journalists provides a clear example of Zimbabwe’s serious and persistent violations of Commonwealth principles.”
President Mugabe yesterday announced that elections would be held in Zimbabwe in March, but the CIoJ believes that there is no prospect of these elections being “free and fair” while press freedom is under attack. Legislation passed by the Zimbabwean parliament allows for foreign journalists to be banned from the country and domestic journalists to be subject to further restrictions. Only journalists approved by the regime by will be permitted to pursue their profession.