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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 political opponents continues, with new incidents of police brutality
AI Index: AFR 46/015/2007 (Public)
May 09, 2007
the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession
International today expressed serious concern at recent police violence
against lawyers and urging the Ministers to immediately investigate
the alleged misconduct of police officers from the Criminal Investigations
Department (CID) Law and Order Section at Harare Central police
The calls come following
an incident on 8 May, when police violently stopped a demonstration
by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, organised to protest the unlawful
arrest and ill-treatment of lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew
One lawyer, Mordecai
Mahlangu, is reported to have sustained injuries in the incident.
Police also bundled other lawyers--including Beatrice Mtetwa, the
President of the Law Society--into a police truck and drove off
to the suburb of Eastlea. Police then assaulted the lawyers before
letting them go.
The organization said
that the police actions were disturbing and that they point to systematic
harassment and intimidation of lawyers who represent activists from
the political opposition parties.
Officers from the CID
Law and Order Section appear to be operating above the law--beating
detainees, defying court orders, and denying detained activists
access to lawyers, food and medical treatment.
Alec Muchadehama and
Andrew Makoni were arrested by police outside the High Court of
Zimbabwe on 4 May 2007 after they submitted papers on behalf of
Amos Musekiwa, a detained activist from the main opposition political
party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mr Muchadehama and
Mr Makoni were taken to the CID Law and Order Section at Harare
Central police station.
Later that night, a High
Court judge issued an order compelling the police to give the detained
men access to lawyers and family members and to allow food and medical
treatment. Police officers reportedly refused to comply with that
order. On 5 May the High Court issued another order declaring the
arrest of the two lawyers to be unlawful and ordering their release.
Again police did not comply and are reported to have threatened
to assault the lawyers representing Mr Muchadehama and Mr Makoni
when they tried to serve court orders. The detained lawyers were
only released on bail on 7 May after being charged with "with
defeating or obstructing the course of justice."
On 6 May police
searched the offices of the lawyers and reportedly seized documents
protected by attorney-client privilege. Lawyers from the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights--Otto Saki and Lawrence Chibwe--were manhandled
by a senior police officer when they tried to prevent the illegal
seizure of the documents.
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