The National Director at Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Mr Dzikamai Bere says the arrest of Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who is currently in police custody was not justified.
In an interview with 263times, Mr Bere said Hopewell Chin’ono has a right to question public institutions and even if he committed a crime, he should not be detained.
“Journalists help bring accountability to public leadership, Hopewell has got a right to ask public institutions about their seemingly questionable conduct. However even if he committed a crime, i think his continued detention is not justifiable.” He said.
Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested on Tuesday night at his home in Harare on allegations of tarnishing the image of the court and for being in secret communication with members of the (NPA) as he is accused of confirming that on his twitter handle.
Mr Bere said journalists have a right to use their freedom of expression without interference from the state and if a journalist is found on the wrong side of the law, they should be put on trial first not to be detained without trial.
Asked by this reporter on whether Hopewell should have “laid low” until his pending cases are concluded before resuming his activism Bere said, “the institutions of law are used to silence critics, so if you lay low you are actually playing into the system, then the system will use it as a weapon against you. It is very important that journalists are able to express themselves using the tools of their trade without interference from the state.
“If the state has got a case, they must put him (Hopewell Chin’ono) on trial, they must not detain him. But never should the state ask journalists to keep quiet.” He said.
Meanwhile, the Zimrights Director further urged journalists to always remain vigilant, report truthfully and to stand in solidarity.
“It’s important for our colleagues in the media to remain vigilant and stand on truth and with each other, this is a time for solidarity for the purposes of accountability because the media is very important.” Mr Dzikamai Bere added.
Hopewell Chin’ono is expected to appear in court this afternoon the 5th of October 2020.