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The arrest of pastors from the Christian Alliance
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
January 30, 2007

Following the 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 offence.

The pastors 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.

ZLHR condemns 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 charges.

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.

Irene Petras
Acting Executive Director

Visit the ZLHR fact sheet

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