Zimbabwe: Authorities must use bail hearing to release journalist Hopewell Chin’ono

The High Court of Zimbabwe will hear the bail hearing of detained freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker, Hopewell Chin’ono, on 18 November. Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi said he required more time to go through Chin’ono’s bid to be released. Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said:

Hopewell Chin’ono’s continued pre-trial detention is a violation of his human rights
Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southern Africa

“Hopewell Chin’ono’s continued pre-trial detention is a violation of his human rights. He should never have spent a single night in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, as he is being detained solely for his journalistic work. His continued detention is the latest tactic to target and harass critical voices through the misuse of the criminal justice system.

Hopewell should never have spent a single night in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, as he is being detained solely for his journalistic work
Muleya Mwananyanda

“Zimbabwean authorities must stop targeting Hopewell for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against him should be dropped.

Zimbabwean authorities must stop targeting Hopewell for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against him should be dropped
Muleya Mwananyanda

“The authorities are ordering Hopewell’s pre-trial detention only to settle scores and prevent him from reporting on issues of public interest. The authorities must stop using the criminal justice system to silence critical voices.”

Background

Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested on 3 November and he is facing charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. The authorities have alleged that Chin’ono created communication lines with unnamed people within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) who gave him access to confidential prosecutorial deliberations, which he allegedly published on social media, including Twitter, on 25 October.

The confidential information purported to show that Henrietta Rushwaya, a Zimbabwean woman allegedly caught at the Robert Mugabe International Airport trying to smuggle gold out of the country, was going to be granted bail without any opposition by NPA officials.

Prosecutors claimed that Chin’ono had jeopardized the integrity of cases against himself and that of Rushwaya. Chin’ono is also facing charges of “inciting the public” after he was arrested in July for exposing corruption and allegedly calling for anti-corruption protests.