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arrest of pastors from the Christian Alliance
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
January 30, 2007
arrest of eight (8) pastors from the Christian Alliance in Kadoma
on Friday 26 January 2007, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
deployed a Kadoma-based lawyer, Mr. Chris Mafirakureva, and subsequently
a Harare-based lawyer, Mr. Kwaramba, to assist in securing the release
of the men of cloth and human rights defenders. Unfortunate information
reached our offices on Friday that an order had been given, initially
from Law and Order, Chinhoyi, and subsequently Police General Headquarters
in Harare, that the pastors should be detained over the weekend.
This position did not change over the course of the weekend, and
charges were subsequently changed from section 24 of POSA
to section 37 of the Criminal
Codification Act, indicating to us that the police had acted
in bad faith and were now simply looking for any charge with which
to charge the human rights defenders.
On Monday 29
January 2007, the eight pastors were eventually brought before the
court at 14h00 to be formally charged under section 37 of the Code.
Various allegations put to them included that: they were organizing
a political meeting under the guise of the church; they were plotting
to overthrow the government and remove the President; they were
discussing political issues. In our view, and those of the lawyers
attending to the matter, the facts indicated do not disclose an
were released on bail of Z$100,000 each, and remanded to 5 March
2007. On this date, we have instructed the lawyers to apply for
removal of the pastors from remand on the basis that the papers
do not disclose an offence.
the actions of the police, and the interference of the authorities
in this matter. Their behaviour serves to confirm our view that
repressive legislation continues to be used to persecute human rights
defenders and to stifle freedom of expression and association in
Zimbabwe. It is the right of all people in Zimbabwe to discuss the
ever-deteriorating economic and social plight of the people, and
to demand redress, without being harassed, intimidated and subjected
to cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention and false
The matter will
be taken up further with the authorities, including the Commissioner
of Police, and the Minister of Home Affairs.
On a separate
note, Dr. Lovemore Madhuku was questioned yesterday by the Law and
Order authorities at Harare Central police station. He was accompanied
by his lawyer, ZLHR member Alec Muchadehama, and was released after
two hours of intense questioning about various demonstrations and
other activities of the National
Constitutional Assembly. Again, we condemn such intimidatory
tactics and harassment of legitimate human rights defenders by the
law enforcement authorities.
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