A constitutional court appeal has been filed by MISA-Zimbabwe seeking the nullification of the criminal defamation law. The argument is that Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) is unconstitutional as it does not comply with Sections 61 and 62 of the new constitution passed in 2013.
MISA Zimbabwe reiterates that criminal defamation and any other laws that criminalise expression are an affront to freedom of expression and media freedom as protected by the (new) constitution and should be immediately struck off the country’s statutes. These laws which also include the presidential insult laws and other provisions under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act , notably sections 31, 95 and 96, do not only turn outspoken citizens and critics into criminals, but can result in: · self-censorship: the media cannot fully utilise its media freedom as guaranteed in section 61 of the constitution. · curtailing citizens’ right to information: media self-censorship affects the quality and amount of information received by citizens. · selectivity, misuse and abuse: these laws can be used as retaliation, vengeance or blackmail tools as opposed to being genuine means of redressing injury