Zimbabwe to reform tough laws

LOOK OF HUNGER: Prison conditions in Zimbabwe are unbearable, as shown in this still from a TV documentary. © Unknown.
LOOK OF HUNGER: Prison conditions in Zimbabwe are unbearable, as shown in this still from a TV documentary. © Unknown.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government will relax the country's harsh media laws and improve prison conditions as part of reforms to be implemented within 100 days, a minister has said.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government will relax the country's harsh media laws and improve prison conditions as part of reforms to be implemented within 100 days, a minister has said.

"There was an agreement to review the media policy to create a climate where divergent voices will be heard," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this week, after a three-day ministerial retreat in the resort town of Victoria Falls at the weekend.

"We want to see a multiplicity of media houses."

In 2002, President Robert Mugabe's government introduced stringent media laws which banned foreign journalists and privately owned daily newspapers, including a critical local newspaper.

Chinamasa said the government would also address the plight of prisoners.

"We want to improve the justice delivery system, including the restoration of prisoners' rights," he said.

Last week, a documentary filmed secretly by the SABC's Special Assignment showed shocking conditions inside Zimbabwean jails.

Pictures of emaciated prisoners suffering from malnutrition-related diseases, highlighted the plight of the hundreds of thousands prisoners starving inside prisons.

"We have agreed to meet the basic needs of all prisoners in terms of food, clothing, bedding and health within 30 days," said Chinamasa. - Sapa-AFP

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