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On Solid Ground - Issue 01
April 04, 2013
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on Human Rights Defenders as the Referendum process winds down
Just after people voted peacefully during the referendum, a dark
cloud hung over Harare as renowned Human Rights lawyer, Ms Beatrice
Mtetwa was arrested
on allegations of obstructing the course of justice. The charges
arose after Ms Mtetwa had gone to attend to her client, Thabani
Mpofu who was arrested at his workplace during a raid by the police.
The arrest of
Beatrice Mtetwa while she was carrying out her duties is not meant
to frustrate her alone but also to send fear and shivers to the
majority of Zimbabweans who look up to her as a firm and principled
human rights defender.
What is worrying
is that if renowned and fearless lawyers like Beatrice Mtetwa can
be arrested and detained under such circumstances, then what will
happen to a number of activists across the country that do not carry
such a status as hers? HZT therefore calls for the general respect
of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.
the country have been synonymous with violence, intimidation and
unwarranted arrests of human rights defenders. Although cases of
political violence were few during the referendum, the operating
environment was still stifled like in other past elections especially
for those that were supporting the "NO" vote. The
vote campaigners had some of their campaign meetings disrupted by
the police. Even the Prime Minister who was in support of the draft,
had to reschedule his meeting in Highfields after his initial meeting
was disrupted by the police.
the referendum with both camps of the “NO” and “YES”
vote making separate rude statements, outwitting each other during
their separate public meetings held in various areas. In light of
this, HZT calls upon the people of Zimbabwe to embrace a culture
of political tolerance which enables them to accept that they can
co-exist despite their political differences.
As the country
gears up for an election, it is imperative that the Government guarantee
people’s safety and should make a commitment that arbitrary
arrests which have become the norm, come to an end.
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