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rights activist brutally assaulted and lawyer harassed
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
April 23, 2004
Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR) notes with grave concern the assaulting of Tinashe
Chimedza; a well-known student youth rights activists by members of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police. Further, ZLHR condemns the harassment of Advocate
Tonderai Bhatasara by police officers manning Marlborough Police Station
where Tinashe Chimedza was being held.
On 22 April
2004, youths and students were attending a peaceful meeting at Mount Pleasant
Hall as part of the enjoyment of their right to freedom of association
and assembly. The police were deployed to break the peaceful meeting using
Tinashe Chimedza was
taken into a small room behind the hall where the police subjected him
to torture. Otto Saki, Tinashe’s lawyer, attended the scene but was denied
access to his client. He however witnessed the torture before Tinashe
was taken to Marlborough Police Station. The assault included handcuffing
his hands behind his back and assaulting him using booted feet, open hands,
baton sticks and a broken broom handle. Tinashe Chimedza was later rushed
to the Avenues Clinic, were he was admitted overnight for treatment.
Human rights lawyers
Advocate Bhatasara and Jacob Mafume who had attended the scene were subjected
to abuse with one officer shouting, "Ndakuona uri ku Mount Pleasant
hall,uinozviita ani ko iwe? Ndinoremekedza flag ye Zimbabwe kudarika iwe,
nhasi pano panofa munhu nezvamurikuita izvi, pfuti dzinorira panoapa".
Literary translated, "I saw you at Mount Pleasant Hall, whom do
you think you are? I respect the national flag more than anything and
anyone, today someone is going to die, shots will be fired today".
These remarks were directed at Advocate Bhatasara, who was thereafter
ordered by the police to remove his watch, shoes, and other belongings,
as he was now under arrest for refusing to remove his cap. The police
released him after a while.
concerned at the heavy handedness of the police in dealing with peaceful
assembly and association. The use of torture, which is on the increase
in Zimbabwe, is also an issue of grave concern to ZLHR. Torture is an
international crime and ultimately torturers run a risk of being prosecuted
anytime and anywhere. We therefore urge the police to desist from such
an unworthy practice and the relevant ministries to investigate the cases
of torture and introduce professionalism in our police force. The continued
harassment of lawyers and members of the judiciary is unacceptable, undermines
the rule of law, and interferes with the independence of the judiciary
and the due administration of justice.
the ZLHR fact
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