284/03 Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights & Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe/Republic of Zimbabwe Summary of Facts 1. This communication is jointly submitted by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (PVT) Ltd (ANZ) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (the Complainants) against the Republic of Zimbabwe (the Respondent State). 2. ANZ is a company registered under the laws of Zimbabwe whose primary business is newspaper publishing. Since 1999, they have been publishing The Daily News, which is the largest-selling newspaper independent of government control in Zimbabwe. 3. The Complainants state that a new media law - the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was enacted in 2002 by the Respondent State. They claim that section 66 of AIPPA read together with section 72 purports to prohibit “mass media services” from operating until they have registered with the Media and Information Commission (MIC). 4. ANZ filed an application challenging the constitutionality of the provisions requiring it to register with the MIC. ANZ therefore declined to register until the question of the constitutionality of the AIPPA provisions it was challenging had been determined by the Supreme Court. th 5. In its judgement of 11 September 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that by not registering with the MIC, the ANZ had openly defied the law and as such were operating outside the law. 6. The Complainants claim that the Supreme Court declined to rule on whether or not the aforementioned provisions of the AIPPA were consistent with the Constitution but instead maintained that every law enacted in Zimbabwe remains valid and should be complied with until it is either repealed by an Act of Parliament or declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that ‘The applicant is operating outside the law and this Court will only hear the applicant on the merits once the applicant has submitted itself to the law’. 7. It is further alleged that following the Supreme Court decision, The Daily News was forcibly closed th on 12 September 2003, ANZ assets were seized and several ANZ officials were arrested, while others were threatened with arrest and criminal charges. th 8. Consequently, ANZ submitted its application for registration with the MIC on 15 September 2003 th and on 18 September 2003, the High Court pending determination of the matter by MIC granted permission to the ANZ to publish The Daily News. The High Court also ordered the return of all the equipment seized and demanded an end to police interference with ANZ business activities. 9. On 19 September 2003, the MIC refused ANZ’s application based on the Supreme Court finding that ANZ had been unlawfully operating its media business. ANZ appealed against the MIC’s decision th to the Administrative Court and on 24 October 2003, the Administrative Court unanimously set aside MIC’s decision and held that the MIC was biased and improperly constituted. The Administrative Court also ordered the Board of the MIC to issue ANZ with a certificate of registration by 30 November 2003 failing which, ANZ would be deemed registered as from that date. th 10. The Complainants state that following publication of The Daily News on 25 October 2003, police immediately moved back into the ANZ offices, stopped their work and prevented all further publication. 11. The Complainants argue further that since then, the authorities have prevented the re-opening of the newspaper offices. The computers and other equipment of the company remain in the hands of the police and ANZ employees have been arrested and charged with criminal offences. 12. The Complainants argue that the current closure of the paper is causing irreparable harm to the freedom of expression and information and many other associative rights as delineated in the African Charter. They add that the closure is costing the ANZ 38 million Zimbabwean dollars per day in lost sales and advertising. Complaint 13. The Complainants allege that Articles 3, 7, 9 , 14 and 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights have been violated.