Last week, 18 human rights defenders and political activists in Zimbabwe had their bail revoked, sent to prison and then bail granted again the following day after Zimbabwe civil society and the international community responded with outrage. These persons were part of a group of individuals forcibly disappeared late last year by suspected state agents.
Following the re-arrest and then re-release debacle, a story was published in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper listing the names of police officials and intelligence agents suspected of being involved in the forcible disappearances. The names were drawn directly from court documents filed by the attorney general’s office. However, on Monday, the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, Vincent Kahiya, and the news editor Constantine Chimakure were arrested for publishing falsehoods.
Which begs the obvious question: Did the attorney general “lie” in the court documents, or did the editors “lie” by publishing publically available information that embarrassed the State while it’s seeking to regain the goodwill of international donors? Hmmm.
Written by Sarah Hager, Southern Africa Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA