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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 10:57 GMT
New media clampdown in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean man reading a newspaper
All journalists will now have to register
Zimbabwe's parliament has agreed to amend its already tough media code making it mandatory for journalists to register with a state commission.

Journalists who fail to do so, could face up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign the amendment into law by the end of the month.

The act is likely to deter foreign correspondents who have been entering the country disguised as tourists.

'Threat'

The original Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) bars foreign journalists from working in the country on a permanent basis.

The practice of journalism could pose a danger to freedom if carried out recklessly
Jonathan Moyo
Information minister
It stipulates that only local reporters licensed by a state-approved media commission can operate.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who pushed through the legislation, said "what the amendment sought to achieve was not unique to Zimbabwe but was the norm worldwide," state media reports, according to AP news agency.

"The practice of journalism could pose a danger to freedom if carried out recklessly," he was quoted as telling parliament.

Human rights groups and media watchdogs have criticised the Zimbabwe's media clampdown.

More than 20 journalists resident in Zimbabwe have been detained and prosecuted since 2001 for "abuse of journalistic privilege", after filing reports the government said were inaccurate.

None, so far, have been convicted.


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