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Cablegate: Date Set to Hear Aippa Challenge; Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 002409

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S, AF/RA, AF/PDPA

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: DATE SET TO HEAR AIPPA CHALLENGE; HARARE


1. On November 21 Zimbabwe's Supreme Court will hear
a challenge to the controversial Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The case,
brought by journalists working in Zimbabwe's privately
owned media, seeks the Court's ruling on the
constitutionality of several important sections of the
AIPPA. November 21 is also deadline for journalists to
comply with AIPPA registration requirements.

2. The legal challenge to AIPPA focuses on sections
of the Act proscribing "abuse of journalistic
privilege" and "publishing falsehoods." In October the
Government of Zimbabwe introduced amendments to AIPPA
in an attempt to clarify some of the Act's vague
language, but journalists here remain convinced that
the Act violates constitutional guarantees of freedom
of expression. The suit also challenges the unchecked
powers of the government's Media and Information
Commission (set up as part of AIPPA) and the mandatory
registration of journalists and media organizations by
November 21, 2002.

3. Journalists who are party to the suit are not
sanguine about its outcome. The government has forced
the retirement of respected justices and appointed
replacements and additional justices who are clearly
sympathetic to the current government's political
agenda. The Supreme Court is most likely to dismiss
the challenge to AIPPA. Journalists understand this
but believe that challenging the law is the only
principled action to take. They also hope that the
challenge will generate new international awareness of
the continuing restrictions on civil liberties and
human rights in Zimbabwe.

WHITEHEAD

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