Award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has issued a statement from prison saying he will not apply for bail but challenge the law under which he is being charged. Chin’ono is being charged under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which deals with “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.”
Except, legal experts and human rights defenders argue the statute was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2014 in a matter brought by two Zimbabwe Independent newspaper journalists.
Chin’ono said he would rather stay in prison cells and head to the Constitutional Court to assert his rights and those of ordinary citizens. He wrote:
I have a choice today to immediately apply for bail and go home, or to fight the constitutionality of the law used to charge me, and as a result, stay in prison for a couple more weeks whilst doing so.
I have chosen to fight the use of this unconstitutional law used against me. If I choose to take bail without exposing the use of unconstitutional laws, the same law will be used against other journalists and ordinary citizens to muzzle them, as has happened to Job Sikhala.
… yesterday it was Mark Chavhunduka and Ray Choto, today it is Hopewell Chin’ono, tomorrow it could be anyone of Zimbabwe’s journalists or citizens.