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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
police assault lawyers
May 08, 2007
the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession
Police in Zimbabwe have
broken up a march by lawyers in the capital, Harare, beating up
several of them.
"They asked us to
lie on our stomachs and then they started assaulting us," the
law society's president, Beatrice Mtetwa, told the BBC.
The lawyers were protesting
about what they said was police harassment after two lawyers were
arrested last week.
The men - who were subsequently
freed on Monday - are representing opposition activists accused
of detonating bombs.
In March, a prayer meeting
in Harare attended by opposition leaders and activists was broken
up by police, leaving two people dead.
Scores of activists,
including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
were arrested and assaulted in police custody.
President Robert Mugabe
has accused the opposition of "creating a state of anarchy".
Ms Mtetwa said
there was a large turnout in the town centre where many riot police
had already assembled.
officer then arrived and told us that we must disperse: he'll count
to three and if we don't disperse when he's finished three his officers
were free to beat us up," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa
Some of the lawyers then
began walking towards the Ministry of Justice's offices, she said.
Lawyers could then be
heard shouting as police bundled several of them into a truck.
forced us onto a truck drove about three or four kilometres and
asked us to disembark... Four lawyers were assaulted," she
"A lot more lawyers
were beaten up outside the High Court itself," she said.
in Zimbabwe require police clearance and unauthorised gatherings
are frequently broken up.
But Ms Mtetwa said that
the march was legal.
"There is no law
that says police must approve the march. It only says they have
to be notified, and we have done that," she is quoted as saying
before the demonstration.
On Monday, the
International Bar Association
said the arrest of lawyers Andrew Makoni and Alec Muchadehama was
"another example of the precarious situation in which human
rights lawyers work in Zimbabwe".
Their detention was ruled
illegal, but the police twice defied orders to free them - they
are now out on bail.
government has escalated attacks on political dissenters in recent
weeks," Mark Ellis of the International Bar Association said.
"And no effective
international action is being taken to stop the flagrant violation
of international law in that country."
Zimbabwe has the world's
highest annual rate of inflation - 2,200% - and only one person
in five is in full-time work.
Mr Mugabe blames
the country's problems on a Western plot to remove him from power.
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