Breaking News

Constitutional Court rips criminal libel

by Daniel Nemukuyu
13 June 2014 | 3092 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

Should Miss World Zimbabwe have been dethroned?

Yes
30.79%
No
64.69%
Not sure
4.52%
354

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

Zimpost issues heroes postage stamps

by Zimpost | 03 August 2015 | 165 Views

Mamelodi Sundowns to loan out Kuda Mahachi

by Sports reporter | 03 August 2015 | 347 Views

Dembare goalkeeper's blunders cost Young Warriors

by Sports reporter | 03 August 2015 | 355 Views

Tsvangirai's political obituary under construction

by Stephen Jakes | 03 August 2015 | 498 Views

Pasuwa quits national team

by Ricky Zililo | 03 August 2015 | 467 Views

Where is King Mzilikazi? - SA central bank boss asks

by Thobekile Zhou | 03 August 2015 | 1109 Views

Chinamasa snubs Bulawayo journalists on second hand clothes ban

by Thobekile Zhou | 03 August 2015 | 905 Views

Kombi accident kills four

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 3957 Views

House intruder tries to rape sleeping woman

by Stephen Jakes | 03 August 2015 | 3111 Views

Zimbabwe to build new railway line network

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 2612 Views

Zanu PF councillor placed off remand in illegal land sale scam

by Steven Jackson | 03 August 2015 | 1576 Views

Mugabe to block civil service retrenchments

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 3380 Views

Lupane University gets $1,6 million

by Staff Reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1822 Views

'Mugabe above the law'

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 2100 Views

Chaos batters Mugabe's govt

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 2071 Views

Donors snub Mugabe bash

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1952 Views

Mugabe's Cabinet divided on job cuts

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1711 Views

Chiyangwa demands $100 million compensation

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1571 Views

India to offer tractors to Zimbabweans on credit

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1042 Views

Zesa to switch off defaulting customers

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1309 Views

Jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss offers 3 houses for bail

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1647 Views

Mliswa tormentors in court

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1325 Views

Ndanga wades into Zanu-PF fights

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1036 Views

'Zanu-PF losing touch with reality'

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1048 Views

Zanu-PF appoints new Mash West chair

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 985 Views

Harare auctions over 100 impounded cars

by Staff Reporter | 03 August 2015 | 1806 Views

Zimbabwe must clear debts to get funds

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 726 Views

Entertainment

Rapper's wife caught cheating

by Staff reporter | 03 August 2015 | 3824 Views

Thokozani Langa consoles Mtshengiseni Gcwensa's familly

by Staff Reporter | 01 August 2015 | 2820 Views

Stand-up comedy on the rise in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 01 August 2015 | 2098 Views

Heavy K expected in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 01 August 2015 | 1988 Views

Gwanda gospel music extravaganza confirmed

by Staff correspondent in Pretoria South Africa | 29 July 2015 | 3768 Views

Zim music industry dead - Prof Moyo

by Staff Reporter | 29 July 2015 | 5160 Views

Bev causes UK man to soil pants

by Bongani Ndlovu | 28 July 2015 | 9549 Views

Maskandi Mtshengiseni Gcwensa dies

by Stephen Jakes | 28 July 2015 | 7187 Views
iBlog

Hp Omen 15-5116tx – The Next Generation Gaming Laptop

the hp omen 15-5116tx is being targeted at the performance hungry gamers. it comes in a single variant boasting an eye-catching attractive design. the notebook offers a slim, lightweight chassis and appears like a piece of art than an actual gaming... Read More
Sergey 11 June 2015 ago

Mobile Spy Software Maker Mspy Hacked

mspy, the makers of a software-as-a-service product that claims to help more than two million people spy on the mobile devices of their kids and partners, to have been massively hacked. a public relations pitch from mspy to krebsonsecurity in march ... Read More
SecNews 17 May 2015 ago