The Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christina Buchan, has expressed concern at how journalists in Zimbabwe are treated, noting that media workers continued to face violations, despite them being declared essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Journalists, even though they were considered essential workers during the pandemic continued to face detention and arrest,” she said at a World Press Freedom Day roundtable meeting held at the Canadian ambassador’s residence last Friday.
“There have also been concerns on proposed laws such as the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill, with some human rights activists fearing that the Bill contains some provisions that will obstruct the role of the media in the fight against corruption.”
Ambassador Buchan noted that attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists and other media professionals were on the rise across the world.
“There is also a trend toward increased restrictions on free expression online, resulting from measures taken by some governments to censor or control digital technologies,” she lamented.
In 2021, MISA Zimbabwe recorded at least 52 journalists that had either been harassed, intimidated, assaulted or jailed.
The roundtable meeting was organised jointly by the Canadian embassy and MISA Zimbabwe.
Participants to the roundtable were drawn from the media, CSOs, legal fraternity and the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
Ambassador Buchan noted that there had been some progress though in terms of the regulatory framework, particularly the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 2020.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, the seminal document that gave birth to World Press Freedom Day.
This year’s celebrations were held in Windhoek, Namibia, where MISA Zimbabwe played a prominent role, with its director, Tabani Moyo, acting as the moderator for the Africa Forum.
MISA Zimbabwe also launched the inaugural Southern Africa Press Freedom Report.