By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK, 8 May 2023 (IDN) — With a blindfold, a sword in one hand and scales in another, Lady Justice is one of the most recognized legal symbols around the world.
Today, however, questionable actions cloud this moral force—from the Supreme Court of the U.S. to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, which prepares to meet the challenges of crucial general elections to take place this summer.
According to the Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists, no one has been held to account in nearly 80 percent of journalist murders during the last ten years, and governments show little interest in tackling the issue.
Despite police assurances of progress and two arrests in Ghana—nobody has been tried or convicted in the murder of Ahmed Suela-Divela, an investigative reporter who exposed alleged corruption in African soccer.
Since Divela’s death, at least 30 other Ghanaian journalists and media workers have faced abuses in connection with their work, including attacks, threats, and arrests. I
Divela told the NY-based Committee to Protect Journalists that he feared for his life after an image of his face was broadcast on live television by Kennedy Agyapong, a member of parliament from the ruling New Patriotic Party, accompanied by repeated threats.
“I’m telling you, beat him,” Agyapong said while an image of Divela’s face aired on screen, according to a translated copy. “Whatever happens, I’ll pay. Because he’s bad. That Ahmed.”
In the Republic of Burundi, an appeals court this month upheld a 10-year prison term for Floriane Irangabiye for a commentary she shared on the diaspora-based online media outlet Radio Igicaniro, in which she was critical of the political elite in Burundi.
In Kenya, 14 organizations have called on Kenyan authorities to speed up investigations into the killing of the Pakistan-born Arshad Sharif, fatally shot by a police officer in a case of “mistaken identity.” Pakistani investigators described the Kenyan police version of events as “full of contradictions” and “not believable”.
Investigators called Sharif’s killing “a case of planned targeted assassination with transnational characters rather than a case of mistaken identity”.
Now Zimbabwe’s NewsDay has expressed fears that Zimbabwean courts “are already showing us a different version of justice, one that is perverted to serve certain individuals and achieve certain ends”.
“Zimbabwe’s authorities seem to be doing their best to dampen would-be voters’ enthusiasm,” added Michelle Gavin, former Managing Director of the Harlem-based Africa Center. “The state continues to persecute opposition politicians and voices of dissent. Police have even stopped musicians from performing songs that condemn corruption.”
The deck Is stacked against Zimbabwe’s opposition in upcoming elections, wrote Zimbabwean Chipo Dendere, an assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College.
Finally, the Media Institute of Southern Africa and Amnesty International are warning that “attacks, harassment, intimidation and criminalization of journalists have been escalating in East and Southern Africa for exposing allegations of corruption and human rights violations.”
The statement by Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty’s director for East and Southern Africa, appeared this month on World Press Freedom Day. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Sithandiwe Velaphi (left), a senior reporter from the Daily Dispatch, is in hiding following death threats from an anonymous caller. Two unidentified men threw a rock at a South African Broadcasting Corporation vehicle containing Atule Joka (right) and two other reporters. Credit: Alan Eason, Rhodes University.
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