Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) is deeply concerned with reports of assault on Ruvimbo Muchenje, a female journalist at News Day Zimbabwe. Ruvimbo was allegedly assaulted by six male police officers on Saturday the 19th of October 2019 while on duty, sustained injuries and was admitted to a medical facility to receive treatment. Reports state that as a result of the assault, Ruvimbo can barely sit on her own.
WILD condemns the continued culture of State violence on civilians in particular, women who are becoming soft targets and calls upon the State officials to respect the fundamental rights of women and all citizens in Zimbabwe.
There is continued widespread morbid culture that restricts citizens’ freedom resulting in apathetic citizenry who are threatened and discouraged from engaging in public life and serving the communities.
These continued episodes of violence and intimidation are in direct contrast with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which guarantees fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression, security of the person, freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources, human dignity and freedom from torture or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
This blunt disregard of the fundamental human rights of citizens is a trend that needs to be addressed if the nation is to make significant progress as a democratic nation. There is need for genuine reforms that will ensure that all citizens are protected by the law as stipulated by the Constitution in Section 44 which provides that the State and every person including juristic persons and every institution and agency of the government at every level must respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and freedoms in Chapter 4.
The unacceptable Police behaviour is being witnessed at a time when the country is in the process of reforming media laws that were known to many as ‘draconian’ as they infringed on the rights of journalists, right from the point of collecting, or gathering information, verifying it and disseminating it to the rightful stakeholders. The now gazetted Freedom of Information Bill should serve to protect the rights of journalists as a Constitutional alignment.
WILD further calls on the State to guarantee security and dignity of the person even in the event of differing views and beliefs, particularly female reporters and photographers. The media are a fundamental element of society in day-to-day information dissemination. And as the fourth estate, they too deserve to be treated with dignity and brought to a court of justice if found on the wrong side of the law. The Police are employed to respect their jurisdiction and rule of Law.
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