By Miriam Zvomuya
Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, the National Spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Republic Police said police will work to ensure that journalists are safe and protected.
Charamba made the remarks during the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Harare at the Annual Media Stakeholders Conference organised by the Media alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ). She bemoaned the fact that journalism was a profession wherein one often experiences torture and threats when executing their duties and reiterated the popular saying that, ‘Journalism is not a crime’.
“I want to ensure you that the Zimbabwe Republic Police will collaborate with media institutions in order to share ideas on issues of mutual consent. It’s a foregone conclusion that the media is a critical stakeholder in conveying messages for public consumption. It’s our desire that the media conveys our message as we conduct our awareness trainings and to give information to the public on all policing matters.
“This multi-pronged approach is vital in our quest to fight the scourge of crime. I appeal to the media to focus on development stories that promote peace and unity, and harmony in the country. The use of inflammatory and hate language breeds negativity, divides communities and nations, promotes violence and it is a recipe for disaster. The police will work with the media to ensure the safety of journalist when executing their duties,” Charamba said.
The Public Relations Department of the ZRP trains police officers to learn about the importance of the media. Charity Charamba also urged journalists to communicate their presence during a public disorder events. Journalists were urged to wear press jackets so that they could easily be identified.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says that, between 2006 and 2017, over 1,000 journalists were killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public, an average of one death in every four days.
On Wednesday, the experts, including David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, released a statement ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, on 2 November, United Nations news reported.
Charamba urged journalists to report any harassment caused by the police. The ZRP received one complaint of the five stories published on the social media about police violence to the media and is investigating that case. She urged the media to be responsible when reporting and to focus on developmental stories that promote peace since journalists have the capacity to build or destroy society. She encouraged the media to use the pen for nation building.
Charamba also articulated that, the media played an integral role during and after elections by informing and educating the public. She said apart from the 1st of August 2018 shootings, the 2018 elections were generally peaceful.
“Journalists should approach police for purposes of clarification. As journalists, do not publish false and unconfirmed reports which incite violence within the public. Quickly report any intimidation caused by the police as justice delayed is justice denied,” added Charamba.