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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe
of Makoni and Muchadehama
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 05, 2007
On 4 May 2007
at around 16h30, Andrew Makoni and Alec Muchadehama, two prominent
lawyers and members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
were arrested outside the High Court during the course of their
business. They were taken to the Law and Order section at Harare
Central police station "for interrogation" but were not
provided with reasons for their arrest.
Lawyers attending at the Law and Order section were able to confirm
the presence of the two lawyers but were chased out of the offices
by Detective Inspector Rangwani, who also threatened to physically
assault Dzimbabwe Chimbga, a project lawyer with ZLHR. Rangwani,
together with four unidentified police details also threatened all
lawyers present with arrest if they persisted with seeking a reason
for their clients' detention.
An urgent application (HC 2346/07) was filed by ZLHR at the High
Court of Zimbabwe, and at around 21h30 Justice Tedius Karwi granted
a "temporary order" directing the police to allow lawyers
access to Makoni and Muchadehama and to allow them access to food,
medical attention if necessary, and visitation by their relatives,
pending the hearing of the matter the following day.
Despite this, the police defied the court order and denied access;
instead they moved Makoni to Stoddart police station and Muchadehama
to Matapi police station. Matapi has been found by the Constitutional
Court of Zimbabwe as a place of detention which is inhuman and degrading,
violating the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
On the morning of 5 May 2007, lawyers were again denied access to
the two and their families were not allowed to provide them with
food, being told to "return at 12h00". The court reconvened
at 12h30 before Justice Karwi, where Mr. Richard Chikosha (representing
the Respondents) agreed with Applicant's counsel, Advocate Eric
Matinenga, that the arrests were unlawful and that Makoni and Muchadehama
should be immediately released. Justice Karwi granted this consent
Lawyers from ZLHR served the order on all Respondents and travelled
to Matapi police station, where they were informed that Mr. Muchadehama
had been taken back to the Law and Order section at Harare Central
for further interrogation by one MARUFU. Lawyers proceeded to Stoddart
police station, where they confirmed the presence of Mr. Makoni,
but were advised that the Officer in Charge was not available and
therefore he could not be released. Again, this is a clear contravention
of a court order.
Efforts are continuing to locate Mr. Muchadehama and ensure the
release of both lawyers from unlawful custody.
ZLHR strongly condemns the unlawful actions of the police in this
matter. Senior police officers at several stations, as well as the
entire Law and Order section, continue to remain a law unto themselves,
and impunity for their actions is further entrenched as each day
passes. Arresting lawyers - who are professionals and officers of
the court - whilst they are attempting to carry out their lawful
duties and ensure the constitutional right to legal representation
for countless repressed human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, is a
cowardly and evil act calculated to harass and intimidate an independent
legal profession. Further, the continued contempt of court orders
by the police has become an everyday phenomenon and no person is
safe from those who are constitutionally obliged to protect the
people of Zimbabwe. Such actions cannot be tolerated or condoned
in a democratic society.
We call upon all concerned citizens and organizations to vociferously:
the actions of the police;
- Demand from
the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of Home Affairs and all
police officers, an end to the ruthless repression of human rights
defenders, and defenders of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe,
and compliance with orders of the courts of Zimbabwe;
their condemnation and concern with the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe,
the Judge President of the High Court, and the Minister of Justice,
Legal & Parliamentary Affairs; and
the judiciary to protect officers of their courts and ensure that
they can carry out their professional duties without victimisation.
Acting Executive Director
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Visit the ZLHR
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