Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is seen at the Magistrate's Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, on July 22, 2020. CPJ recently sent a letter to the African Union urging support for his release. (Photo: Samuel Takawira)

CPJ joins letter calling on African Union to secure release of Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono

The Committee to Protect Journalists today joined eight other press and human rights groups in sending a letter to Cyril Ramaphosa, the chair of the African Union and the president of South Africa, calling on him to use all means available to secure the release of jailed Zimbabwean reporter Hopewell Chin’ono.

Chin’ono, an award-winning investigative journalist who recently covered alleged government corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 supplies, was arrested on July 20 and charged with incitement, as CPJ documented at the time.

The letter also urged Ramaphosa to ensure that journalists across the continent are respected as essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and that they are not jailed for their work, in line with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, adopted in 2019 by the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Chin’ono is set to spend his fourth night in police custody today after authorities postponed his bail hearing until tomorrow morning, his lawyer Doug Coltart told CPJ via messaging app.

The joint letter can be read in full here.

Earlier this year, CPJ and 80 other groups issued a letter to African heads of state, urging them to release all journalists held for their work amid the pandemic. On July 13, Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir died after contracting the coronavirus while held in pretrial detention for his work.