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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
attack on legal practitioners continues
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 08, 2007
the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession
Members of the Law Society
of Zimbabwe were today subjected to the full brutality of the state
when they attempted to gather for a peaceful solidarity protest
outside the High Court of Zimbabwe in Harare.
Lawyers were due to present
a petition to the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and
the Commissioner of police urging full and immediate protection
of lawyers and prosecutors in the execution of their professional
This comes in the wake
of harassment, threats and assaults on human rights lawyers at the
hands of the police, and which culminated in the arrest and detention
of senior legal practitioners Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni
on Friday 4 May 2007 during the course of their business on charges
of obstructing the course of justice.
Around 60 lawyers had
gathered outside the High Court, when they were ordered by Chief
Superintendent Tenderere to disperse before the count of three,
failing which his officers had instructions to beat lawyers. As
lawyers began to disperse, riot police, uniformed officers and plain-clothes
individuals' wielding baton sticks began to threaten the lawyers,
verbally abuse them, and prod them with their baton sticks.
Led by the President
of the Law Society, Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa and two other Councillors
of the Law Society, Collin Kuhuni and Chris Mhike, a number of lawyers
dispersed in the direction of the Attorney General's Office,
walking on the pavement. Without provocation or warning, police
began assaulting lawyers with baton sticks, because they "were
not dispersing fast enough". Senior lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu
and Acting Director of Zimbabwe lawyers for Human Rights, Irene
Petras, were amongst those subject to such assaults.
When Messrs Mtetwa, Kuhuni,
Mhike and Fitzpatrick ran into the Attorney General's office
to seek protection from the ruthless police, they were chased by
riot police, and found other officers already waiting for them inside
the building. The four were loaded into a police truck and driven
to Eastlea, where they were offloaded and severely beaten with baton
sticks in full view of the public. Police then abruptly abandoned
them on the side of the road.
ZLHR strongly condemns
the brutal actions of the police and views these assaults as proof
positive that the integrity and independence of the legal profession
remains at critical risk.
verbal and physical attacks on lawyers who are carrying out their
professional duties and attempting to speak our for the protection
of the law for their own colleagues, are a clear sign of the state's
outright disregard for constitutional protections and regional and
international human rights standards which oblige the state to ensure
that lawyers and prosecutors are able to carry out their duties
without fear or favour and enjoy the same freedoms of expression
and assembly as other people of Zimbabwe. Such actions also serve
as blatant attempts to bar lawyers from representing human rights
defenders who remain at serious risk of violations by the state
and its agents.
It is clear
that Zimbabwe has become a police state, with those whose duty it
is to protect and serve the people of Zimbabwe turning on them with
increasing viciousness and impunity. The silence of the Minister
of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs, as well as the Attorney
General of Zimbabwe is deafening and they need to act immediately
if the rule of law is to be restored in the country.
Visit the ZLHR
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