UNESCO Director-General deplores situation of Zimbabwe's Daily newsUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today expressed his concern over the situation of Zimbabwe's Daily News, and deplored the arrest of its directors.
“I am deeply concerned about the situation of The Daily News,” said the Director-General. "The constant charges and arrests of directors and journalists, as well as the administrative interference of the country's only independent daily, appear to be aimed at closing it down for good. But muzzling the press cripples a country's development and prosperity. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are the driving forces behind democratic processes."
Founded four years ago, The Daily News was shut down on September 12 after the Supreme Court ruled that the paper was published illegally because it had not obtained an operating license from the Media and Information Commission (MIC). This latter was set up under the information law of March 2002, which is considered anti-constitutional by The Daily News.
On Friday, October 24, Zimbabwe’s Administrative Court ordered the MIC to deliver a license to The Daily News within a month. Nonetheless, the next day, the daily reappeared on the news-stands. Eighteen of the newspapers’ journalists were immediately arrested but quickly released. Five directors were charged with “illegal publishing” and “obstruction of justice” and then arrested.
“I praise the October 24 ruling handed down by the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe and can only regret that it was followed by more charges and arrests”, said Koïchiro Matsuura. He added: “I'm especially sensitive to the plight of this newspaper, which was founded by Geoffrey Nyarota, a Zimbabwean journalist to whom I personally handed the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2002.”
In January this year, Geoffrey Nyarota, who has repeatedly been arrested and charged in his country, was awarded the prestigious Nieman Fellowship for journalism at Harvard University.
Some 40 journalists have been charged and four foreign correspondents expelled from Zimbabwe since the beginning of 2002.