ZOCC Celebrates Chin’ono’s High Court Judgment
The Zimbabwe Online Content Creators (ZOCC) has welcomed the High Court ruling which cleared journalist Hopewell Chin’ono of criminal charges allegedly committed while discharging his journalistic duties.
In her ruling, Justice Jester Hellena Charehwa yesterday quashed charges of communicating false information leveled against the award-winning journalist.
Justice Charehwa said the law used by police to arrest him earlier this year no longer existed in Zimbabwe’s statutes.
Commenting on the latest development, ZOCC chairman Toneo Rutsito said the good news came at a time journalists, particularly local online content creators, have been under scrutiny and enduring all sorts of attacks from the authorities.
“The judgment raised hope on judicial independence and more importantly denied the criminalisation of journalism,” he said.
“One cannot be arrested for practicing journalism … criminalisation of that tweet was tantamount to absolute silencing of the media.
“This goes against the Government agenda of freeing the media and more importantly, the recently gazetted Freedom of Information bill. It’s a landmark ruling. Journalism is not a crime.”
The charges against Chin’ono emanated from a tweet he posted alleging that a policeman had struck a baby strapped on its mother’s back with a baton stick on the head and the baby died.
Police dismissed the allegation.
His lawyer Harrison Nkomo said the charge fell under an “unconstitutional” law, noting that the criminal code cited by prosecutors was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2014 for being “unfair”. Nhau/Indaba