UPDATE (2 September 2020): We are relieved at the news that journalist Hopewell Chinono has finally been released on bail amid mounting concerns for his health. We continue to call for all charges against him to be dropped.
English PEN joins PEN International in calling on the authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to immediately release detained investigative journalist and filmmaker Hopewell Chinono and to unconditionally drop all charges against him.
On 20 July 2020, armed Zimbabwe Republic Police violently broke into Hopewell’s home in Harare and arrested him with neither warrant nor explanation. He was held at the Harare Central Police Station and arraigned in a Magistrate’s Court where he was charged with ‘incitement to participate in public violence by promoting the 31 July 2020 planned protests on his social media pages’. The court denied him bail and ordered him detained in custody at the Harare Remand Prison. On 7 August, having been denied bail for the third time, Chinono was transferred to Chikurubi Maximum Security prison. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
PEN has received reports that, prior to his arrest, Hopewell Chinono had published documents exposing alleged high-level corruption in which powerful individuals in Zimbabwe were profiting from multi-million-dollar deals for essential supplies to fight COVID19. We believe that the Zimbabwe authorities are victimising Chinono in an attempt to silence his investigative journalism and reporting alleged high-level corruption in Zimbabwe.
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Share details of Hopewell Chinono’s detention with friends and colleagues and join the call for his release on social media #FreeHopewell
Please send urgent appeals to the authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe urging them to:
- Immediately drop all charges against Hopewell Chinono and all those being held or prosecuted for protesting peacefully against the government;
- Stop the ongoing judicial harassment of journalists and other dissenting voices in Zimbabwe;
- Respect Zimbabwe’s constitutional protections of media freedom and the right to freedom of expression and to desist forthwith from arbitrary use of the criminal justice system to silence critical journalism, public dissent and other peaceful expressions of dissatisfaction with the government;
- Comply with their obligations under international human rights law and standards on protection of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Send your appeals to:
Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa
President of The Republic of Zimbabwe
Email: [email protected]
Minister of Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Email: [email protected]
Paul Themba Nyati
Zimbabwe Republic Police Spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner
Please inform PEN of any action you take and any responses you receive.