The African Commission on Human Rights has called on Zimbabwe to urgently repeal or amend, at least half a dozen laws that violate the right to free speech.
The Commission’s chairperson Pansy Tlakula urged Zimbabwe to speedily amend the 400 pieces of legislation that violate the Constitution.
Tlakula’s was in the country as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, amidst concerns about the pace of media policy reforms.
Since 2002 dozens of journalists were arrested and media houses closed under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and other laws.
Tlakula says, “Those laws hamper the effect right or enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression. If they are repealed or amended the situation will in my view improve, particularly in the light of the progressive freedom of expression and access to information provisions in the Constitution.”
Tlakula has however welcomed the role of the Constitutional court in striking from the statues the criminal defamation laws that have been used against the media, but ordinary citizens continue to face arrest from an insult law that criminalises insulting the president.
As the African Commission lobbies for greater access to information, it says the continent has made slow but significant progress with Zimbabwe’s Lawyers for Human rights saying in the past year they have assisted scores arrested for criticizing the president on social media.