Two months before presidential and parliamentary elections on 23 August, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges Zimbabwe to abandon a proposed “sovereignty and national interest” law that poses a major threat to journalism. Freedom of expression must be safeguarded, RSF says.
Zanu PF, the party that has ruled Zimbabwe since independence, used its parliamentary majority to get the draconian new bill – called the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill, or Patriot Bill for short – passed on the night of 31 May.
Clause 2 of this loosely worded bill provides for a death sentence or life imprisonment for anyone “wilfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe” by attending a meeting when they have “reason to believe” that its aim is “to consider or plan armed intervention.”
If the meeting’s aim is “to subvert or overthrow the government,” participants will face up to 20 years in prison. If sanctions or a commercial boycott of Zimbabwe are discussed, they could get a ten-year sentence.
Now that it has been approved by the senate, the Patriot Bill – which could clearly be used to imprison journalists covering meetings – will take effect as soon as it receives approval from the president, who has three weeks to sign it into law from the moment he receives it.
Read full article: “Patriot Bill” threat to Zimbabwean journalists two months before elections
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