Alerts   |   Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, courthouse filming lands journalist in jail

Manyere (IRIN)

New York, March 1, 2010—A Zimbabwean freelance journalist was arrested today for the third time this year—this time for taking footage of prisoners outside a courthouse in the capital, Harare, according to local journalists.

Officers of Zimbabwe’s Prison Service arrested Andrison Shadreck Manyere, an award-winning photojournalist and videographer, after he filmed the arrival of several men imprisoned since 2007 on allegations of plotting to overthrow the government, members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told CPJ. The prison guards accused Manyere of taking footage “without the permission of the Commissioner of Zimbabwe’s prison service.” Manyere was questioned by officers of the Law and Order unit of the police and was detained in Harare Central Police Station pending a formal charge, according to ZLHR spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda.

“This is the third time in five weeks Anderson Shadreck Manyere has been detained on insubstantial accusations,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “The constant harassment of this photojournalist must cease.

Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer who won a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2008 and witnessed Manyere’s arrest, told CPJ several reporters had gathered outside Harare’s Magistrates’ Court as journalists were barred from entering the building with their cameras. After seizing Manyere’s camera, prison guards warned other journalists not to take any pictures or footage of the suspects who were held in leg irons and handcuffs, she said.

On February 24, members of the ruling ZANU-PF party abducted Manyere and forced him to delete footage of their demonstration held last week, according to local news reports. Previously, on January 18, Manyere spent six hours in Harare Central Police Station after covering a civil society march, according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe. 

Manyere is the plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of his December 2008 arrest, which led to pending charges of banditry, insurgency, and terrorism, defense lawyer Alec Muchadehama told CPJ. Manyere resumed work after four months of imprisonment and was fighting to recover camera equipment seized by the police in December 2008. 

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