Incarcerated Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who is facing charges of communicating falsehoods says he will not apply for bail preferring to challenge the unconstitutional law used to charge him.
Chin’ono argues that Section 31 of the Criminal Code used to charge him is unconstitutional as it was struck off by the Constitutional Court in 2014.
In a statement from remand prison, Chin’ono said he wants to fight the unconstitutional laws so that they wont be used to muzzle ordinary citizens.
“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,” wrote Chin’ono.
He said it would be a betrayal of the journalism profession and the nation if he chooses his immediate liberty over the right to free speech.
“I would have totally sold out the journalism profession and the nation if I chose my immediate liberty over the media’s right to free speech and the nation’s right to speak and be protected after speaking. It is also important to challenge the use of this unconstitutional law so that the world can see where our judiciary stand in regards to rule of law especially the magistrates court,” he said.
Chin’ono also lamented the failure by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) to provide him with proper sanitation and blankets despite a court order.
“On the 9th of January, the court ordered that Prisons provide Hopewell Chin’ono with hot/warm water for bathing purposes. Chikurubi Prisons refused to follow that order. The court ordered prisons to provide Hopewell Chin’ono with clean running water for drinking purposes and flushing the toilet. Chikurubi Prisons failed to do that. Prisons is supposed to provide clean blankets. Chikurubi failed to that.”
Chin’ono said in the event that the case proceeds using an unconstitutional law he will apply for bail and take the challenge against the unconstitutional law to a higher court.
His charge emanates from a tweet in which he said police had beaten an infant to death while enforcing Covid-19 lockdown rules last week. Police later said the information was false.