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Betty Makoni released - two American women spent a night in custody
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
August 23, 2007

At exactly 0806 hours, 22 August 2007, The Director of Girl Child Network and Chairperson of Women's Coalition, Betty Makoni and two women from the United States of America were re-arrested at Harare Central Police station. The trio had been summoned the previous day to report at the police station which led to their subsequent arrest.

Betty Makoni was released last night around 2100 hours after enduring 13 hours of state interrogations. Charges leveled against Betty Makoni were not yet clear by the time of going to press. The two American women have spent a night in detention as the police are arguing that they are still preparing their case before handing them over to the courts.

The two American women one aged 23 and the other one in her early 50s had their passports and air tickets confiscated before having their finger prints taken. Police are charging them under the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) section 84 on charges of filming in the country without state accreditation.

The three were last night denied legal aid. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) representative Mr Chimbwa was manhandled and dragged out of the police station before being threatened with imprisonment if he was to remain persistent on gaining access to his clients.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition deplores the state's gross disregard of both the country's constitution and regional laws, which grant the citizenry the right to freedom of assembly, association, choice and expression. The incarceration of human rights activists is a clear indication of the verdict, which will be delivered in the 2008 elections. The democratic space continues to shrink as the state intensifies its harassment of human rights activists, journalists, opposition members and the citizenry at large in its attempt to hold on to power by all means necessary.

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