Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent media lawyer, has defended many journalists in Zimbabwe who have been detained and harassed. In a country where the law is used as a weapon against independent journalists, Mtetwa has defended journalists and argued for press freedom, all at great personal risk.
"Zimbabwe's feisty freedom fighter," BBC news, October 18, 2005
Remarks on accepting award
I would like to thank CPJ and all those who contributed to my nomination for this award. I particularly thank CPJ for keeping the story of Zimbabwe's persecuted media alive.
I would like to accept this award on behalf of all the independent journalists in Zimbabwe who continue to work despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment.
It is the courage of these journalists that has made the award possible for me.
The illegal detention and torture of two journalists in 1999 marked the beginning of an unprecedented clampdown on the free press in Zimbabwe. This came as a new opposition party posed a strong challenge to the government, and a new independent newspaper, the Daily News, was reporting on critical issues.
After the government lost a constitutional referendum in 2000, it stepped up its war on the independent press. It introduced new laws under which it became a crime to practise journalism in Zimbabwe without government accreditation.
These laws have been used to close several independent newspapers. Countless journalists have been left without jobs, while dozens have also fled the country under threat of arrest and prosecution. Today, Zimbabwe holds the dubious honor of having the highest number of journalists in exile.
Zimbabwe now has only two independent weeklies with limited circulation. But they have to work under the permanent threat of having their licenses withdrawn, and that inevitably leads to self-censorship.
The absence of an independent daily newspaper or independent radio means that people in the country are not informed properly about what is going on: human rights abuses, food shortages, petrol shortages, the collapse of the health and education systems, and the breakdown of the rule of law.
The restrictions mean that the outside world is equally deprived of information on Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's embattled independent media is in desperate need of support. I plead with all of you here tonight to continue doing everything you can to restore media freedom in Zimbabwe,
And that includes engaging regional bodies and the African Union.
Without media freedom, all other fundamental rights of Zimbabweans will continue to be eroded.
Again, thank you very much for your support.
Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Shawkan (Egypt), Malini Subramaniam (India), Can Dündar (Turkey), Óscar Martínez (El Salvador)
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)