Nigeria/Africa Masterweb News Report
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Mugabe tightens media laws
(Saturday, January 8, 2004)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has enacted changes to media laws that will see unlicensed journalists jailed for up to two years, the government gazette announced on Friday. The amendment to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act which was passed by parliament early November, after weeks of intense debate and resistance from opposition lawmakers, is now effective, according to a notice posted by Mugabe's chief secretary.
In the government gazette notice, the secretary Misheck Sibanda said the law "which has been assented to by ... the president, is published." Under the new regulations journalists who work without a government licence now face a two-year jail sentence or a fine or both. A state-approved media commission has powers to accredit journalists.
Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo last year defended the amendments as intended to "protect the state from attacks by enemies of the country". The new provisions tighten a law originally passed in 2002, just days after Mugabe's victory in presidential polls.
Two independent newspaper groups have been shut down and scores of journalists arrested under the 2002 media law.
The media law also bars foreign journalists from working permanently in the southern African country.
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