Breaking News

Constitutional Court rips criminal libel

by Daniel Nemukuyu
12 June 2014 | 2765 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

Comments

News Updates via Email

Email:

News Updates via WhatsApp

Latest News

ZAPU Vice-President resigns - The Vice President of the Zimbabwe Afric...

by Dr. Strike Mkandla | 06 February 2016 | 174 Views

Musewe the truth is Mugabe is Don Quixote on 'pink face' charge to hid...

by Patrick Guramatunhu | 06 February 2016 | 447 Views

Mutsvangwa scoff at Jonathan Moyo's 'petticoat thief' allegations - Wa...

by Staff reporter | 06 February 2016 | 579 Views

No more other Gukurahundi 2, abduction and killings to come ZAPU is pr...

by Sikhumbuzo Moyo | 06 February 2016 | 390 Views

Zim woman stabs, kills hubby in SA

by Concerned Citizen | 06 February 2016 | 3277 Views

Singing Peace Amid Ever-Increasing Misery

by Maxwell Teedzai Entertainment in Harare | 06 February 2016 | 575 Views

Bosso goes to polls - HIGHLANDERS members go to the polls at the club ...

by Sikhumbuzo Moyo | 06 February 2016 | 811 Views

'Evil spirits order man to strip, bash wife - A PREGNANT 21-year-old w...

by Leonard Ncube | 06 February 2016 | 1177 Views

Donkey 'infected with rabies' mauls granny

by Walter Mswazie | 06 February 2016 | 1277 Views

'To put the world to order, put nation . . . self to order first,' adv...

by Wilbert Mukori | 06 February 2016 | 1327 Views

140 Zimbabwean criminals deported - THE South African government is e...

by Thupeyo Muleya | 06 February 2016 | 3008 Views

Zifa official collapses, dies - ZIFA Bulawayo provincial chairman Was...

by Lovemore Meya | 06 February 2016 | 2817 Views

Man (65) and nephew (18) jailed after raping teen girl - A 65-year-old...

by Lovemore Meya | 06 February 2016 | 1431 Views

Central bank to introduce agricultural funding policy - The Reserve Ba...

by Elita Chikwati | 06 February 2016 | 658 Views

Thieving couple locked up - A thieving couple from Beatrice that claim...

by Lovemore Meya | 06 February 2016 | 1002 Views

Top cop seeks divorce after cheating on wife with nurse - A police ass...

by Daniel Nemukuyu | 06 February 2016 | 1764 Views

Mugabe's party has no time for discussing 'WhatsApp' says Minister - Z...

by Tendai Mugabe | 06 February 2016 | 1074 Views

Mugabe property bombing saga: Suspect confesses - Zimbabwe People's Fr...

by Tendai Rupapa | 06 February 2016 | 2069 Views

MP questions govt over shortage of funds yet buying flashy cars for mi...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 1087 Views

One has to be funny to be appointed minister in Zimbabwe - Ndebele - M...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 1301 Views

MP condemns taking of farms from Ndau people to give them to individua...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 826 Views

Harare Residents lambast council for being dishonest - Harare Resident...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 399 Views

Zanu PF chucks out of parliament another MP - The ruling Zanu PF on T...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 1711 Views

Catholic Church call for journalists to contribute catholic news - The...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 356 Views

$30 000 needed to treat a multi-drug-resistant person for TB - MDC-T M...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 751 Views

Women Alliance of Business Association in Zimbabwe petition parliament...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 249 Views

People First now exposing their true colours they are still Zanu PF - ...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 February 2016 | 1623 Views

Villagers forced to fund Mugabe bash - Zanu-PF youths are allegedly de...

by Staff reporter | 05 February 2016 | 2483 Views

Entertainment

Bulawayo Music Awards appeal for support - The Bulawayo Music Awards h...

by Stephen Jakes | 05 February 2016 | 694 Views

Going For Africa Gold: Bethen Steals Africa's Gospel Music Limelight

by Maxwell Teedzai in Harare | 04 February 2016 | 1012 Views

'Higher than usual DStv price hike expected' - The ongoing weakening o...

by Channel24 | 04 February 2016 | 4039 Views

New Radio Dynamic Duo use CHEAP FREE TECH to transform RADIO in ZIMBABWE

by Staff reporter | 03 February 2016 | 1732 Views

Gilmore, Mbo in Cape Town for South African Menswear Week - TOP fashio...

by Bongani Ndlovu | 03 February 2016 | 870 Views
iBlog

What To Look For In Video Converter Software

looking for the best video converter software? you have to compare different video converters before making a purchase.the ability to watch video on different types of devices is a wonderful thing. not so wonderful are the compatibility issues that ... Read More
Sergey 19 June 2015 ago

Samsung Gear Vr Innovator Edition For S6: The Perfect Vr Intro For Professionals

we're drenched in talk about the impending wave of consumer-facing vr headsets about to hit the market, starting at the end of 2015. by contrast, you can walk into a best buy right now and pick up the samsung gear vr innovator edition for the galax... Read More
Sergey 20 June 2015 ago