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Statement on the arrest of Beatrice Mtetwa
in Zimbabwe Coalition
March 18, 2013
The Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition would like to register its disquiet with the
unlawful arrest and detention by the police on Sunday 17 March 2013,
of Eminent Human Rights Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. We view the arrest
of Mtetwa, as yet another unfortunate example of how the Police
are consistently overstepping their authority and contrary to their
oath to uphold the law are breaking and abusing it to meet unspecified
and opaque aims. Although the Police have tried to sale a case of
“Obstruction”, we believe that Beatrice is being targeted
because she has become a fly in the ointment of the state, the Police
and known political parties, and their sinister agenda to trample
on the rights of Zimbabwean Citizens. We note the above precisely
because it is former Zimbabwe
Law Society President Mtetwa, who has shielded ZimRight’s,
View 29, recently against the politically motivated machinations
of the state and its functionaries in the police. We are fully convinced
that Mrs Mtetwa’s arrest is punishment, not for breaking any
laws but for daring to do what lawyers do – represent a client
and ensure that the police, in the conduct of their work are not
shredding the Bill of Rights and the law in the process.
approach to Policing has become widespread and common place over
the last 10 weeks as we have seen police cracking down on Human
Rights Defenders, their organizations and now their Lawyers. We
are fully aware that the Criminalization of Mrs. Mtetwa, as in previous
instances, is not meant to meet any legal and just ends, but to
intimidate Human Rights Lawyers, their clients and organizations.
Coming as it
does a day after a referendum
on a draft Constitution, and even before the ink had dried on
our ballot papers, we condemn this nicodemous conduct of the Police,
which was carried out while the nation’s attention was on
the Referendum, and declare that these acts are ultra vires the
country’s constitution, and the spirit with which the people
of Zimbabwe collectively participated in the referendum. The Coalition
contends that the referendum was not just on the constitution but
more on the old way of doing business. Results of which already
indicate that the people voted for a break with the past including
arbitrary arrests, harassment of HRDs, their Lawyers and organizations.
The Coalition urges the police to get on board with this new agenda,
break with the past and start building a new progressive and better
Zimbabwe where the police are not a law unto themselves.
ii. The immediate
release of Beatrice Mtetwa without further delay, as ordered by
the High Court in the early hours of Monday the 18th of March 2013.
iii. That the Police STOP ignoring Court orders, and subject themselves
to the law that they are sworn to serve.
iv. That the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, immediately ceases
the harassment and criminalisation Human Rights Lawyers, their clients
and organisations and urgently take measures to ensure the protection
v. The police and prosecuting authorities should exercise professionalism
and carry out their duties in a non-partisan manner and desist from
the intimidation of human rights lawyers and their clients.
We remain convinced
that this unprofessional conduct by the Police, and their attempts
to criminalize and discredit Mrs Mtetwa are wholly associated with
the impending elections. We thus call upon the Government of Zimbabwe,
the Southern African Development Community, and the International
Community to urge the Police to desist from such unwarranted actions,
which themselves boarder on criminality and are anathema and a bad
sign for the holding of free and fair.
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in Zimbabwe fact
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