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Press Defender Mtetwa Says Harare Curtails Information Flow

  • Studio 7

Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent defender of journalists and media rights in Zimbabwe for more than a decade, said in an appearance on VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the country's present legal framework "virtually curtails the free flow of information" and that it is "impossible for a journalist to practice without the government's say-so."

Ms. Mtetwa is one of five recipients of the 2005 International Press Freedom Award given by the Committee to Protect Journalists - and the only recipient this year who is not a journalist. The New York-based CPJ made the exception in recognition of her extraordinary legal efforts on behalf of Zimbabwean journalists as the government of President Robert Mugabe has moved to circumscribe press freedom.

Her clients have included the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publisher of the Daily News, barred from publishing in 2003 for its aggressive coverage of the Mugabe administration, and Andrew Meldrum, an American journalist who was expelled from Zimbabwe in May 2003 after 23 years as a correspondent for British papers.

Ms. Mtetwa has also represented innumerable lesser-known journalists caught up in the Harare government's repressive apparatus, recently winning an acquittal for a Daily News reporter in a critical test case over alleged unlicensed reporting.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...