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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

  • Ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and releases, judicial proceedings and unlawful search
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    May 16, 2007

    Visit the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe

    The Observatory has been informed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) of new serious acts of repression against Zimbabwean human rights defenders.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

    Brief description of the situation:

    According to the information received, on May 4, 2007, Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, two senior lawyers of ZLHR and partners in the law firm Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni, were arrested outside the High Court in Harare by members of the Law and Order Section of Harare Central police. They were taken to the Central police station "for interrogation" but were not provided with reasons for their arrest.

    Following 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 Mr. Dzimbabwe Chimbga, a project lawyer with ZLHR and threatened all lawyers present with arrest if they persisted with seeking a reason for their clients' detention. Moreover, Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni were denied access to their relatives and were also denied food and medication.

    An urgent application was filed by ZLHR at the High Court of Zimbabwe. In the evening, the Court granted a "temporary order" directing the police to allow lawyers access to Messrs. 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.

    In spite of this, the police defied the court order and transferred Mr. Makoni to Stoddart police station and Mr. Muchadehama to Matapi police station. They also denied them any access to their lawyers, relative, food and medication.

    On the following day, the court reconvened and declared that the arrests were unlawful and that Messrs. Makoni and Muchadehama should be immediately released.

    When travelling to Matapi police station, lawyers from ZLHR were informed that Mr. Muchadehama had been taken back to the Law and Order section at Harare Central for further interrogation. 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.

    On the morning of May 6, 2007, as a second application was being filed, Chief Inspector Manjengwa and several police officers from the Law and Order section at Harare Central police station visited the offices of the law firm of Messrs. Mbidzo, the other partner in the firm, Muchadehama and Makoni taking the two detainees with them. Mr. Lawrence Chibwe, LSZ Deputy Secretary, Mr. Otto Saki, acting programmes coordinator at ZLHR, were threatened with arrest when they sought to scrutinise the search warrant. Police proceeded to remove certain files and documents from the offices and did not allow the lawyers to take an inventory or remain present during the search. Messrs. Muchadehama and Makoni were then taken back to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Law and Order.

    Following the application, the High Court ordered that they be produced before it on May 6, 2007 and once again, the police refused to produce them and they remained in custody as of May 7, 2007. Lawyers acting for the two were harassed, threatened and severely intimidated by officers of the Law and Order Section as and when they served the court applications and court orders and the general refusal to accept service of court process by members of the Law and Order Section continued.

    The police would intend to charge the two lawyers under section 184 (a) and or (e) in the alternative of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act with obstructing the course of justice. They have been remanded to June 15, 2007 for routine remand.

    The Observatory has also been informed that on May 8, 2007, Mrs. Beatrice Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Ms. Irene Petras, acting executive director of ZLHR, Mr. Mordecai Mahlangu, a senior lawyer and former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mr. Chris Mhike, Councillor of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mr. Colin Kuhuni, Councillor of the Law Society, and another senior lawyer Mr. Fitzpatrick, were severely beaten by the police in Harare Zimbabwe, for leading the legal profession in Zimbabwe to defend the rule of law and protest the frequent harassment of lawyers in Zimbabwe by the police and the now endemic defiance of court orders by the government.

    The Observatory notes with great concern that these facts occur in the context of organised violence and torture against human rights defenders and political opponents in the run up to the 2008 elections.

    Actions required:

    Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe urging them to:

    i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, as well as all persons above-mentioned;

    ii. Conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the events above-mentioned, in order to bring the authors to justice and pronounce sentences proportional to the gravity of their crimes;

    iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni as well as all other human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

    iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

    v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

    Addresses :

    • President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President, Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211
    • Mr. Khembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716
    • Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: + 263 4 77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155
    • Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Police Commissioner, Police Headquarters, P.O. Box 8807, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084
    • Mr. Sobuza Gula Ndebele, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO Box 7714, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47
    • Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19
    • Ambassador Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email:
    • Ambassador Mr. Pununjwe, Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, 11 SQ Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email:

    Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.

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