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Police must end intimidation of activists
April 20, 2010
today urged the Zimbabwe police to end their intimidation of activists
and stop preventing them from exercising their right to peaceful
The call came as four
female activists arrested and kept in custody without charge for
5 days following a peaceful demonstration were released after the
Attorney General's office refused to prosecute them.
Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani, members
of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), were arrested on 15 April while attending a peaceful
demonstration protesting rising electricity prices in the country's
capital Harare. They were arrested along with 61 others who were
"We welcome the
release of the women activists, but are concerned about systematic
abuse of the law by the police to frustrate human rights defenders
engaging in peaceful protest," said Simeon Mawanza Amnesty
International's Zimbabwe researcher.
"It is unacceptable
that 30 years after independence, Zimbabwe's activists still
have to deal with ongoing harassment, fear and threats."
calls on Zimbabwe's Government of National Unity to halt on-going
harassment of human rights defenders. Persecution of human rights
defenders for their legitimate activities is a contravention of
Article 9 of the African Charter
on Human and Peoples' Rights.
has documented consistent politicised and partisan policing by members
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), in particular the Law and
Order section, aimed at silencing the voices of human rights defenders.
In March police
arrested Mr Okay Machisa, the director of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and Owen
Maseko, an artist, in separate incidents.
Owen was arrested
and charged under the Public
Order and Security Act after holding an exhibition on the atrocities
committed by state security agents in the 1980s in Matabeleland.
He was detained and later granted bail. Okay Machisa was forced
to temporarily leave the country as a result of his arrest.
Republic Police need reforming to end the culture of impunity that
thrives especially within the Law and Order section. These cases
are testimony to the need for such reforms if the Global
Political Agreement is to deliver on peace and stability."
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