English PEN protests the continuing detention of freelance journalist and internet writer Frank Chikowore, who was charged with ‘public violence’ on
Frank Chikowore, a freelance journalist for publications including the private weekly The Standard, who also runs a popular blog covering the 2008 elections, has been detained since 15 April 2008. That day, Chikowore reportedly went to cover a strike called by the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (
On 17 April, Chikowore’s lawyer filed an urgent High Court application to have the journalist taken to hospital due to abdominal and chest pains but, according to our information, he has yet to receive the required treatment.
On 21 April, six days after his arrest, Chikowore was finally charged with ‘public violence’, in relation to the burning of a bus on the morning of 15 April. Under Zimbabwean law, individuals should be charged within 48 hours of their arrest. The police had previously made a number of other accusations, including reporting without accreditation (dropped when it was discovered that he is accredited by both the Media and Information Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), arson and attempted murder. There are concerns that the current charges may have been fabricated. On 22 April, Chikowore was remanded in custody, reportedly until 5 May.
English PEN is also seriously concerned about a number of other attacks against print journalists in
Stanley Karombo, freelance journalist for Spanish news agency EFE among others, was detained incommunicado for three days. He reportedly went missing on 18 April during celebrations for the 28th anniversary of
Meanwhile, three foreign print journalists have been subjected to week-long detentions and trials this month before returning home. New York Times correspondent Barry Berak and contributor to the UK newspaper Daily Telegraph Stephan Bevan were detained for five days from 3 April and were accused of covering the elections without accreditation. Both men reportedly had to receive medical treatment on their release. On 16 April they were acquitted of all charges on lack of evidence and returned to
April has seen a number of other attacks against broadcast journalists and other media workers as part of a wider post-election crackdown in
For general information on
For the Amnesty International report on post-election violence in
Please send appeals:
– Protesting the wave of attacks against journalists in Zimbabwe since the 29 March elections, in particular the continuing detention of freelance journalist and internet writer Frank Chikowore, in apparent violation of their right to freedom of expression enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Zimbabwe is party.
– Calling on the authorities to back up the charges of ‘public violence’ made against Chikowore, which some reports suggest are trumped-up, and allow him full access to the medical and legal assistance to which he is entitled, including bail provision. Alternatively, to release him immediately and unconditionally.
His Excellency President Robert G Mugabe
Office of the President
Munhumutapa Building, Samora Machel Avenue / 3rd Street, Box 7700
Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
Salutation: Your Excellency
Commissioner-General of Police
Salutation: Dear Commissioner-General
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in
Commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
48 Kairaba Avenue, P. O. Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia
Copies of your appeals should also be sent to the diplomatic representative for Zimbabwe:
His Excellency Mr Gabriel Mharadze Machinga
Embassy of the
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/zimbabwefreelancejournalistcharged/