Breaking News

Constitutional Court rips criminal libel

by Daniel Nemukuyu
13 June 2014 | 2622 Views
The Constitutional Court unanimously ruled yesterday that criminal defamation must be struck off the statutes because it is not a justifiable law in a democratic society like Zimbabwe's.

The court invited Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to defend the law if he so wished, before a final declaration is passed.

The Constitutional Court ruled against the law in a case brought by former Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi, who were being charged with criminally defaming Green Card chairperson Dr Munyaradzi Kereke.

In a unanimous ruling by the nine judges, the court presided over by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled in a judgement written by Justice Barat Patel that criminalising defamation violated people's freedom of expression and muzzled the media. The court found that the right of bringing a civil suit for damages adequately protected defamed people.

The journalists, charged with breaching Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, were seeking permanent stay of prosecution and repealing of the section from the statutes saying it was unconstitutional.

Madanhire and Matshazi were arrested after Dr Kereke reported to the police that they criminally defamed him in an article published in the Standard of November 6, 2011.
The article said Green Card was on the brink of collapse and failing to pay members, staff and creditors.

A Harare magistrate referred the case to the Constitutional Court after a successful application for such by the journalists.

"In short, it is not necessary to criminalise defamation statements," Chief Justice Chidyausiku said yesterday.

"Consequently, I am satisfied that the offence is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society within the contemplation of Section 20(2) of the former Constitution.

Accordingly, it is inconsistent with the freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 20(1) of that Constitution."

Chief Justice Chidyausiku held that the journalists successfully proved their case.

"They have succeeded in demonstrating that the offence of criminal defamation is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society on any of the grounds mentioned in Section 20(2) of the Constitution," he said.

"In the result, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is hereby called upon, if he so wishes, to show cause why Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act should not be declared to be in contravention of Section 20(1) of the former Constitution."

Chief Justice Chidyausiku directed the Chief Registrar of the Superior Courts to set the matter down for hearing at the earliest available date if Minister Mnangagwa wanted to defend the law.

If the minister wants to defend the law, he must bring new facts and legal arguments other than those already heard by the court.

It could not be established yesterday what Minister Mnangagwa makes of the ruling.

The court held that the media had an important function of disseminating information and facilitating accountability.

"Part and parcel of that role is to unearth corrupt or fraudulent activities, executive and corporate excesses and other wrongdoings that impinge upon the rights and interests of ordinary citizens," said Chief Justice Chidyausiku.

"It is inconceivable that a newspaper could perform its investigative and informative functions without defaming one person or another."

Chief Justice Chidyausiku added that the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for criminal defamation under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was harsh.

"This penalty, in my view, is clearly excessive and patently disproportionate for the purpose of suppressing objectionable or opprobrious statement."




The court hailed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights castigation of criminal defamation.

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights, in Resolution 169 adopted on November 24, 2010 also condemns criminal defamation in the context of the media and calls on all member states to repeal such laws.

criminal

Source: Herald

Are housemaids an evil lot?

Yes
27.35%
No
64.32%
Not sure
8.33%
468

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

The President's dismissal of VP Mujuru is a welcome development - The ...

by Mukachana Hanyani | 18 December 2014 | 1351 Views

Mnangagwa, Grace Mugabe plot takeover - Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 2762 Views

Didymus Mutasa linked farm invaded - MAKONI farmer Dumisani Daniel Mli...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1394 Views

ZSP applications concerns and warning - It is about 2 weeks before the...

by Butholezwe Nyathi (National Coordinator-MWA-SA) | 18 December 2014 | 1381 Views

Biti speak on challenges facing Zimbabwe - Video

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 898 Views

Mujuru's political obituary? Don't write her off yet!!

by Maggie Mzumara | 18 December 2014 | 1588 Views

Panic over Form 1 places - PANIC and desperation have gripped many par...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1121 Views

2014 in Zimbabwe politics - WHAT a year in politics 2014 has been! Mov...

by Andrew Kunambura and Ray Ndlovu | 18 December 2014 | 491 Views

Call for Mnangagwa to rule is as absurd as letting a rapist finish

by Wilbert Mukori | 18 December 2014 | 1756 Views

Mugabe's target survives

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 2005 Views

Tendai Biti speaks about Zanu-PF - Video - "Emmerson can replace Mujur...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1038 Views

'Its inqayi not udiwo lwamahewu, Dairiboard please get that straight'

by Concerned Citizen | 18 December 2014 | 1248 Views

'Few voters understand what Tsvangirai stands for' - MDC-T leader Mr M...

by Psychology Maziwisa | 18 December 2014 | 813 Views

Ndebele language cartoon - Picture - Following the mutilation of the N...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1715 Views

Annual National Sports Awards winners - 1. Junior Sports Woman of the ...

by Staff Reporter | 18 December 2014 | 712 Views

World Bank pledges $44 million to help Zimbabwe

by Shingai Nyoka | 18 December 2014 | 1085 Views

Man steals prostitute's cellphone for denied 'seconds'

by Nokusa Masuku | 18 December 2014 | 2141 Views

White Africa President rejects cabinet's call for resignation

by Reuters | 18 December 2014 | 1987 Views

Eddie Cross in contempt of court

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1055 Views

'Mugabe stole my Xmas'

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1640 Views

Tsvangirai wants Biti, Ncube back - Video

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1891 Views

MDC-T council to name suburb after Mujuru

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 2103 Views

Mnangagwa speaks on unity - Video

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 846 Views

Students rejects Muchinguri as Higher Education minister - Zimbabwe Na...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 2347 Views

'It's not over,' says Mutasa

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 3065 Views

Mnangagwa, Holland in peace push - Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa...

by Staff reporter | 18 December 2014 | 1891 Views

'Ben 10' bashes sugar mummy during a church service

by Plaxcedes Hove | 18 December 2014 | 2288 Views

Senior Zanu-PF officials arrested - TOP Zanu-PF officials were yesterd...

by Lovemore Mataire and Elita Chikwati | 18 December 2014 | 2232 Views

Woman hangs self over a missing $10 - A BULAWAYO woman committed suici...

by Nqobile Tshili - Oswell Moyo | 18 December 2014 | 1336 Views

Entertainment

Kunonga releases fourth album, Kwedu - AFRO-JAZZ singer Victor Kunong...

by Staff Reporter | 18 December 2014 | 301 Views

Ibumba roars into life with Tuku expected to headline the event - THE ...

by Simbarashe Mutizwa | 16 December 2014 | 916 Views

Hollywood star 007 in drive to save Zimbabwe elephants - HOLLYWOOD st...

by Staff Reporter | 16 December 2014 | 2359 Views

T1 Wema1 drops new single 'Anochera Ngoda'

by Staff Reporter | 15 December 2014 | 1325 Views

Miss World 2014 - LIVE Grand Final - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

by MissWorld | 14 December 2014 | 4579 Views

Bulawayo boy joins Joyous Celebration - TAKESURE "Zamar" Ncube has rea...

by Staff reporter | 11 December 2014 | 4194 Views

Chris Brown returning to South Africa

by Entertainment Reporter | 11 December 2014 | 3110 Views
iBlog

The Nsa Gets An Ok For Telephony Metadata Collection Yet Again

As much as we’d like to forget about the national security agency (nsa) and its mass surveillance program, it seems that there is no distracting ourselves from this unnerving reality.missing from the news for quite some time now, the issue has resu... Read More
SecNews 09 July 2014 ago

Positions To Make Female Orgasm Easier During Intercourse

some women are fortunate enough to be able to climax easily, and in almost any sexual position. the majority of women though, sometimes find it difficult to orgasm especially when they are with a partner. sometimes this difficulty is just a result ... Read More
adoniadennis 12 May 2014 ago