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Prominent human rights defender hunted down through the media
March 08, 2013
The alert issued
by Zimbabwe police on state television implying that prominent human
rights defender Jestina Mukoko was on the run from the law is a
new low in the recent crackdown on dissent, Amnesty International
night, Zimbabwe state-owned television ran two announcements implying
that Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe
Peace Project, was on the run and the announcements urged members
of the public to call the police with any information about her
was at her home when the announcements were made, voluntarily
reported to Harare Central Police station Friday morning. She was
charged with several counts then released into the custody of her
appalling that at this critical time when Zimbabwe is in the process
of adopting a new constitution which provides a stronger bill of
human rights, human rights defenders are coming under systematic
attack,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s
southern Africa director.
use of state media to publicly portray Mukoko as some kind of fugitive
is a regrettable new low for the government.”
Mukoko was charged
with several counts including operating a private voluntary organisation
without registration under the Private
Voluntary Organisations Act. ZPP is registered under a deed
of trust with the High Court like most other human rights groups
Early in February,
the ZPP was raided by
police who had a warrant to search for “subversive material
and illegal immigrants.” They seized material including project
documents, four smart phones and 80 solar powered/crank radio receivers.
On 19 February
the police announced a ban
on short wave radios in Zimbabwe. It is not clear under which law
this ban was made and how it will be implemented.
the ban, police searched the offices of Radio
Dialogue in Bulawayo and seized 180 radios and charged Zenzele
Ndebele, the station manager, under section 182 of the Customs and
The ban on short
wave radio receivers is seen as an attempt by police to curb access
to alternative sources of news as the country prepares for the constitutional
referendum on 16 March and a possible election in July.
pattern of repressive behaviour by Zimbabwe’s security forces,
and the use of underhand tactics to incriminate human rights defenders,
must end,” said Kututwa.
scheduled for next weekend and the elections that follow must take
place in an environment that respects human rights and fundamental
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