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Zimbabwe Cabinet Backs Amendment or Repeal of Repressive Security & Media Laws

Police briefly detained Zimbabwe Human Rights Association National Director Okay Machisa and confiscated photographs documenting human rights abuses one day before the opening of an exhibition at a Harare gallery

The Zimbabwean Cabinet has approved proposals by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to amend the Public Order and Security Act and replace the much-maligned Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act with a freedom of information law.

Another piece of legislation is planned to regulate the conduct of journalists, sources said.

Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that such changes would be welcome, but warned they may not be implemented.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said the country must start preparing now for elections in 2011 if they are to be free and fair.

The group said elections are in the cards for next year in light of recent statements by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network National Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that a zero-tolerance policy on political violence must be adopted by all.

The National Constitutional Assembly and the Research and Advocacy Unit, meanwhile, issued a report on the abuse of women rights activists at the hands of ZANU-PF militants, and the lack of counseling to help them deal with trauma, as Sylvia Manika reported.

In another development Tuesday, police briefly detained and confiscated photographs documenting human rights abuses from Zimbabwe Human Rights Association National Director Okay Machisa one day before the scheduled opening of an exhibition in Harare.

ZimRights sources said the organization sought police clearance for the show but police demanded Tuesday to see the photos to be displayed. When ZimRights refused police went to the Gallery Delta, confiscated the pictures and detained Machisa for about an hour and a half.

Zimrights source said the organization hopes to recover the photos from police - but in any case it intends to go ahead with the exhibition. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and diplomats were expected at the opening.