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condemns arrest and assault of WOZA members
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
February 15, 2013
for Human Rights (ZLHR) unreservedly condemns the over-zealous actions
of members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), who arrested,
detained and assaulted some members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) in Harare and Bulawayo.
Police, on Wednesday
14 February 2013, without just cause and in their increasingly regular
arbitrary manner, arrested nine WOZA members who were part of the
annual Valentine's Day "love" protest outside
building in central Harare. The WOZA members, who included Jenni
Williams, the organisation's leader, were assaulted by police
officers from the Police Reaction Group, who arrested them and surrendered
them at Harare Central Police Station. They were released without
any charges preferred against them after the intervention of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights member lawyer, Dr Tarisai Mutangi of Donsa-Nkomo
and Mutangi Legal Practitioners. The WOZA members, who sustained
injuries, filed a complaint for assault against the police officers
who attacked them.
14 February 2013, police in Bulawayo arrested 195 WOZA members at
a demonstration commemorating Valentine's Day and assaulted
them before releasing some of them. Kossam Ncube, of Kossam Ncube&Partners
Legal Practitioners, who is also the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights board member, who represented some of the WOZA members, was
denied access to his clients on Thursday while Bertha Sibanda was
charged with contravening Section 132 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Sibanda remains in detention.
It is saddening
that the police continue to make the arrest, harassment and mistreatment
of WOZA members a pastime.
assault and detention of the WOZA members including blocking lawyers
to consult their clients is a clear sign that the democratic and
constitutional rights of Zimbabweans are still a remote reverie
and that the coalition government has not changed the situation
for the better as some would want us to believe. The right to organise
and to assemble together with the aim of addressing issues of common
concern is a human right and an important means by which citizens
can influence their governments and leaders.
ZLHR urges the
police and government to observe these basic human rights in the
interest of upholding the rule of law.
of the defenceless WOZA members for exercising their right to freedom
of assembly and association further indicates the shallow understanding
of the law by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, who continue
to misinterpret the provisions of the laws in Zimbabwe with impunity.
It is shameful
that the police continue to haunt the WOZA members despite several
clear pronouncements by the country's judiciary to the effect
that they must stop abusing provisions of the Public
Order and Security Act.
harassment buttresses the urgent need to inculcate a culture of
reading among members of the police so that they can adequately
appreciate the provisions of the laws of this country.
available and willing to offer free lessons to the police on this
so that they can refrain from conducting themselves in a fascist
manner and in ways reminiscent of the colonial era.
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