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violence report: November 2006 - Overview
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
January 23, 2007
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The month of November saw the annual celebration of the 16 Days
of Activism Against Gender Violence by various sectors of the
Zimbabwean society countrywide. Ironically, in a country which would
seem devoted to the issues of the protection of women and men against
politically motivated gender violence, as exemplified by the debates
on the Domestic
Violence Bill in Parliament, the month of November saw no exception
in the harassment of women who were celebrating this event. On 29
November 2006 at 11:00 am women from Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) held a peaceful demonstration near Mhlahladlela
government offices in Bulawayo to commemorate the 16 days of Activism
against Gender Violence and to launch a document the group calls
'The People's Charter'. The document reportedly
advocates for affordable healthcare, education and housing in Zimbabwe.
During the reading, anti - riot police arrived and started assaulting
the women and arrested 57 of them for having an illegal demonstration.
It is reported that the women were assaulted whilst in detention.
Furthermore, 23 of the arrested demonstrators were released on the
night of 29 November for medical care. However, 34 other members of
WOZA remained in police custody and were only released on 1 December
2006 after having appeared in court. The Human Rights Forum notes
with concern the Government of Zimbabwe's continued assault
on members of WOZA in 2006. It should be noted that the harassment
and torture of these women or any other citizens by the police, army,
CIO operatives or any other state agents, will not negate Zimbabwe's
moral obligation to provide accessible, affordable, available health
care, education, housing nor address the many other concerns raised
by these women. Moreover, the 7th acquittal of WOZA members by the
Zimbabwean courts lends credence to the notion that the allegations
levelled against them over the years are vexatious and frivolous.
November the NCA
alleges that close to 250 of its members who had converged at the
Africa Unity Square were heavily assaulted and dispersed around
14:00 hours by the police for participating in an illegal demonstration.
The members had converged on the scene from various cities countrywide
to demonstrate for a new constitution, including Mutare, Gweru,
Bulawayo and Harare. On the same day, the chairperson of the NCA,
Lovemore Madhuku, was arrested at the Africa Unity Square allegedly
for having organised the demonstration for a new constitution by
members of his grouping. The police detained Madhuku on that day
around 17:15 hours at Harare Central Police Station without notifying
him that he was under arrest. It is reported that Madhuku was only
charged the following day at 16:00 hours wherein the police argued
he had organised the demonstrations without informing the regulating
authority as prescribed by POSA.
However, by not informing the victim of the reasons for his arrest,
the police violated Madhuku's constitutional rights as set
out in section 13 (3) and section 18(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Moreover, the Human Rights Forum notes that the use of national
legislation such as POSA by the Government of Zimbabwe in defiance
of its international laws that protect the right to freedom of association
and expression is unlawful and irregular. On the use of national
legislation which is not in conformity with international human
rights law, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights,
has argued in a case, which although dealing with the specific question
of freedom of expression, states a principle of general application,
which deserves to be quoted at length.
should avoid restricting rights, and have special care with regard
to those rights protected by constitutional or international human
rights law. No situation justifies the wholesale violation of
human rights. . . . to allow national law to have precedent
over the international law of the Charter would defeat the purpose
of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter. International
human rights standards must always prevail over contradicting
A number of
Zimbabwean citizens have been assaulted or arrested over the past
few years under the General Laws Amendment Act facing allegations
of interfering with President Robert Mugabe's motorcade. In
a case that would support these allegations, one Simba Mabasa, a
driver for the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), was
reportedly arrested and detained for four days at Harare Central
Police Station after allegedly interfering with President Robert
Mugabe's motorcade along Julius Nyerere way in Harare. It
is alleged that Mabasa failed to give way to the convoy which was
coming from Harare International Airport following the President's
return from a COMESA meeting in Djibouti. Mabasa was driving a TIMB
shuttle bus, which was impounded by the police during the arrest.
All passengers on the shuttle bus were ordered to disembark. Mabasa
was released after four days of rigorous interrogation and the bus
was also released back to the organisation on the same day.
1 November 2006 - 30 November 2006
Cumulative Totals: 1 January 2006 - 30 November 2006
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