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Arbitrary arrest and detention of Human Rights Defenders
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
December 02, 2005

http://www.zlhr.org.zw/media/releases/dec_02_05.htm

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reports that on the 1st of December 2005, police arbitrary arrested and detained 5 AIDS activists - Sostain Moyo of Zimbabwe Activist on HIV/AIDS (ZAHA), Munyaradzi Gwisayi of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Nickson Nyikadzino of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Gladys Chiume and Anacolletta Penduka both of Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN) for being part of the group commemorating the World Aids day at the Africa Unity Square, Harare, quelling the commemoration of such an important and international event.

The human rights defenders remained detained at the time of this press release despite the fact that the Attorney Generals office agreed with the lawyers that there was no basis for the police to have acted in the heavy handed manner that they did. This prohibition is a clear violation of Article 19.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice."

Forcible stoppage of commemorations
The commemoration of this day by People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) followed an initiative by the Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN), supported by other AIDS activists from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Activists on HIV/AIDS (ZAHA) and the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (ZNNP+). Following an initial prohibition, the commemoration had been authorised by the police after WASN took them to the High Court to compel them to grant such permission.

Such a prohibition by the police clearly illustrates the failure of the government not only to duly regard HIV/AIDS as a national emergency calling for concerted efforts against its impact, but also a pure misconception of the purpose and provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17) to which AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) are exempt from the procedures relating to political organization. It is shocking that the state would act in such an abhorrent manner and take such a grossly unreasonable decision in an environment wherein approximately 2 000 people are dying of AIDS every week, 1,2 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and an estimated 20,000 out of an estimated 290,000 in need of antiretroviral treatment (ART) are actually on treatment. With some 2 million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Zimbabwe, the looming drug shortage presents an eminent threat to the lives of millions

Action requested
Kindly write to the Zimbabwean government urging them to:

1. Order the immediate and unconditional release of the 5 AIDS activist who have been detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

2. Ensure the physical and psychological integrity of the detained persons.

3. Guarantee the respect and protection of the freedom of expression and association.

4. Ensure the promotion and fulfillment of the right of access to treatment by People Living with and Affected by HIV/AIDS.

Please write to the authorities using the following details:

  • President Robert G. Mugabe, Fax: +263-4-790316/ 734644
  • Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: +263-4-772993/9
  • Mr. Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: +263-4-780734/ 777049
  • Mr. David Parirenyatwa, Minster of Health and Child Welfare, Fax: +263-4-730011
  • Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner of Police, Police Headquarters, Harare, Fax: +263-4-253212

Also write to Zimbabwean embassies in your respective countries.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken at Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

Visit the ZLHR fact sheet

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