Zim Court Hears Challenge of Internet Blockade

HIGH Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu will on Monday 21 January 2019 preside over the hearing and determination of an urgent chamber application filed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa Zimbabwe) challenging the suspension of internet services by service providers following a directive issued by government.

Justice Tagu will hear the urgent chamber application at 2:30 PM in Harare. In the urgent chamber application, ZLHR and Misa Zimbabwe, represented by Denford Halimani of ZLHR, argued that the internet blockade was a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights including access to information.

ZLHR and Misa Zimbabwe cited Owen Ncube, the Minister of State in the President’s Office for National Security, Isaac Moyo, the Director-General of Intelligence Services, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, NetOne Cellular, Telecel Zimbabwe and Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe as respondents.

Halimani contented that there is no legal basis for Ncube and Moyo to issue a directive suspending internet services in terms of a warrant issued under the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act.

The human rights lawyer argued that the directive to suspend internet services has caused serious inconveniences, loss of business and income, threats to life and the right to healthcare as people are not able to access vital communication relating to their medication among other issues. He added that people are unable to access funds remitted from abroad as internet banking services have also been affected.

Halimani argued that the warrant in terms of which the directive to suspend internet services was issued is too wide and there are other alternative remedies that Ncube and Moyo could have resorted to without the complete shutdown of all internet access in Zimbabwe.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights