No draconian laws, we are British.

Author:Mbakwe, Tom
Position:Africa/Britain - Brief Article

As the British government and its media upped the ante against Zimbabwe in February, accusing the Mugabe government of imposing "draconian" media laws on the country, poetic justice was served in large doses in central London when the Charing Cross police arrested five journalists and two photographers on 21 February for demonstrating in front of the Zimbabwe high commission without permit.

The demonstration had been called by the London office of the Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Sam Frontieres (RSF), in solidarity with Zimbabwean journalists who had been reported to be facing "draconian media laws" in Harare.

But no sooner had the RSF demonstrators arrived at the high commission (which happens to be directly opposite the Charing Cross Police Station), than the police rushed out to arrest them, for demonstrating without a permit, and for trespassing (putting up posters on the walls of the high commission building).

As the journalists were detained, the London police did the honours by asking the Zimbabweans (the owners of "draconian" laws) whether they wanted to press charges against the journalists. It was quite a sight to see the British police holding the journalists in detention for hours as the high commission contacted Harare for instructions.

In another development, the RSF's secretary general, Robert Menard, was fined 1,000 euros by a court in Paris for manhandling a Tunisian Tourism Office employee during a demonstration at the Tunisian embassy in Paris last June.

Meanwhile, in Britain, a new bill making its way in parliament "would give [the government] power to see...

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