Describe the main features of the measure/initiative:
In March 2015, Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust submitted a joint stakeholder report on artistic freedom in Zimbabwe as part of the Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations Human Rights Council. Upon this framework, Freemuse’s and Nhimbe’s joint submission focused on Zimbabwe’s compliance to its commitments under international human rights instruments relating to freedom of expression, creativity and the arts, as well as guarantees under its own constitution. During its first UPR cycle in 2011, Zimbabwe expressed support for a sole recommendation on freedom of expression, committing to “make improvements to ensure the freedom of expression, including for the mass media.” In October 2015, Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust organised and coordinated workshops and interviews with local artists, journalists, and human rights advocates as part of its multi-sectoral approach to documenting the state of artistic freedom in Zimbabwe. Following the report submission, Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust participated in the UPR pre-session in Geneva to advocate for these country specific recommendations. This advocacy involved meetings with UN missions, including Canada, Norway and the United States. In a development highlighted as part of our UPR submission underlining the worrying trends in Zimbabwe, the Censorship Board on 10 March 2016 banned the distribution of the award-winning documentary ‘Democrats’, a film chronicling the constitutional-making process in Zimbabwe. According to media reports, it was alleged that the film was not “suitable for public showing.” Another case illustration concerning a decision made by the Board, relates to the play, ‘No Voice, No Choice,’ which was banned on grounds that it was “too direct…,inciteful and against the spirit of national healing.” The lack of clarification in the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, as to what is considered in classifying a piece of work as ‘inciteful, too direct or in contradiction to public order,’ undermines appeal processes and procedures that seek to challenge Board decisions on grounds that they are unwarranted and amount to arbitrary censorship. The director and producer Tafadzwa Muzondo, challenged the ban as a violation of his right to a fair hearing by taking the matter to the High Court. The High Court dismissed his claim. Artistic freedom entails the freedom to experience and contribute to artistic expressions, to disseminate artistic expressions or creations and to enjoy the arts. The protection and promotion of freedom of artistic expression is crucial to both ensure that artists can express themselves freely through various artforms and for audiences to be able to enjoy diverse cultural expressions, including having their beliefs and opinions challenged by others. Several laws significantly limit artistic freedom, and practices of government agencies and non-state actors create an environment of fear and self-censorship. Recommendations from the stakeholder submission by Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust: • In accordance with international standards and respecting the 2013 constitution, Zimbabwe should abolish the Censorship Act and any prior-censorship bodies or systems where they exist and use subsequent imposition of restrictions only when permitted under Article 19 (3) and 20 of ICCPR. Such restrictions should be imposed exclusively by a court of law. • Replace the Censorship Board and other bodies censoring or regulating artistic expressions with a classification board mandated to issue age recommendations to protect children. • Repeal Section 31 (criminalises the publishing of or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state), Section 33 (criminalises insulting the office of the president) and Section 96 (criminal defamation) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. • Reconstitute the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) with new appointees taking oath of office in line with public leadership and governance principles in Chapter 9 of the Constitution. The new BAZ board independence must be guaranteed and respected to eliminate, as far as possible, executive interference on political grounds. • Improve efforts to issue licences to community radio stations as these small broadcasters have substantial influence on the exercise of freedom of artistic expression by granting local artists access to showcase talent. BAZ must decrease the fees for licenses to ease the financial burden for applicants for community broadcasting services. The exorbitant fees required are perceived as a deliberate move to prevent new entrants into the sector. • Repeal or significantly reform the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) provisions that restrict freedoms of expression and assembly as proposed by the United States, Australia, Canada, Austria and Mexico during Zimbabwe’s 2011 UPR. • Take measures, including training of national and local police, to ensure the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) are not abused by the police to limit artistic freedom of expression in violation of the 2013 constitution and Zimbabwe’s international obligations
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?:
The workshop and interviews on artistic freedom enabled the establishment of a network of key stakeholders, with artists offered a safe space to spotlight their concerns and share their experiences. In order, to consolidate these gains, Freemuse is connecting artists with civil society organisations and art/cultural institutions for a Zimbabwe chapter of the Global Action Network for Defending Artistic Freedom. The network will further enable key domestic stakeholders to connect and constituency build around artistic freedom, document violations of artistic freedom in the country, and will provide an opportunity to build campaigns from the grassroots to amplify local voices in the international vernacular. The UPR workshops and report contributed to a number of recommendations being presented by states, as part of the UPR process, calling on Zimbabwe to uphold and defend freedom of expression. These include: 1. Actively pursue the work on compliance of laws and regulations on human rights with constitutional provisions and take necessary measures to fully guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful demonstration and assembly (France) 2. Review the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Censorship Act, Broadcasting Services Act, and Public Order and Security Act, to ensure their full compliance with the international obligations of Zimbabwe and with the country’s Constitution with regard to the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and the elimination of discrimination against women (Czechia) 3. Review and align the laws of Zimbabwe to its’ 2013 Constitution, including in relation to section 61 on freedom of expression and freedom of the media, and ensure their implementation (Netherlands) 4. Guarantee full enjoyment of the right of freedom of expression and association (Ukraine) 5. Adopt measures that guarantee the rights of citizens to peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression (Chile) 6. Continue to strengthen the implementation of laws and policies on freedom of expression and assembly (Botswana) 5.7. Ensure that legislation is in line with the new Constitution and the rights concerning freedom of expression and freedom of media therein, repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act governing public assembly and freedom of association, and license independent broadcasters (Sweden) 6.8. Repeal and amend legislation that infringes on the right to freedom of expression in line with the international obligations and Constitution of Zimbabwe, such as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Public Order and Security Act (New Zealand) 7.9. End human rights violations and abuses against civil society, the media and political opposition; repeal the ban on public demonstrations; and ensure individuals are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, free from intimidation and harassment (Canada).