Zimbabwe re-arrests journalist Hopewell Chin’ono

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Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin' ono talks to the media following his release from prison in this Wednesday Sept. 3, 2020. Chin'ono walked out of Chikurubi Maximum Prison wearing his prison jersey when he was released on bail early September as a symbol that "yes, I might be out of Chikurubi but the current government has created a giant prison for all of us", he told The Associated Press. Human rights defenders say it appears the government is using restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19 to suppress political criticism. Opposition officials, human rights groups and some analysts accuse Mnangagwa of abusing the rights of critics, using tactics as harsh as his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwe re-arrests journalist Hopewell Chin’ono

New York, January 8, 2020 – Zimbabwean authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and cease efforts to intimidate and harass him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

This afternoon, police arrested Chin’ono at his home in Harare, the capital, and took him to the city’s central police station, according to a tweet by the journalist and two of his lawyers, Doug Coltart and Harrison Nkomo, who spoke to CPJ over the phone. Authorities said they plan to charge Chin’ono with “communicating falsehoods” over a tweet covering alleged police abuse, according to the journalist.  Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is seen following his release from prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, on September 3, 2020. Chin’ono was re-arrested today. (AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

“Zimbabwean authorities should immediately release journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, drop all efforts to prosecute him, and cease these flagrant intimidation tactics,” Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, said from Nairobi. “Press freedom requires that journalists be able to work without fear of criminal sanction. This basic condition is something Hopewell Chin’ono and other journalists in Zimbabwe continue to be denied.”

If convicted of “Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State,” Chin’ono could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine, according to Section 31 of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Coltart told CPJ that Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court previously ruled parts of that law to be unconstitutional.

In 2020, Chin’ono was arrested, prosecuted, and repeatedly detained over his reporting, according to CPJ research.

[Editor’s note: The text of the fourth paragraph has been corrected to accurately reflect the name of the mentioned law.]

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