Back to Index
targeted over violence monitoring initiative
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
March 11, 2013
View this article
on the SW Radio Africa website
Human rights activist
Jestina Mukoko is believed to be a target of a deliberate campaign
to stop the roll out of a violence monitoring initiative, which
she was reportedly involved in.
Director of the Zimbabwe
Peace Project, was last week charged
by the police after voluntarily
reporting at the Harare Central Police Station. The police had used
the state media to say she was ‘wanted’ and was on the
run from the law, in a move slammed as a ‘new low’ of
persecution by the police force.
Mukoko was charged
with contravening the Private
Voluntary Organisation Act, the Broadcasting
Services Act and the Customs and Excise Act. In short, the police
accused her of running a non-registered organisation and for smuggling
radios and cell phones, which had previously been seized during
a police raid on the Peace Project offices.
Mukoko denied all the
charges and explained to the police that none of the organisation’s
activities were in any way illegal. In her statement to the police
she also questioned the irregularity of the charges against her.
Mukoko was then released into the custody of her lawyers after the
interrogation and the police indicated that they would advise of
any further action after assessing the docket.
It has since emerged
that Mukoko was in the process of starting a violence monitoring
initiative, using smart-phone and internet technology to allow people
to report incidents of violence. The initiative is using the Ushahidi
resource, an online mapping resource that started in Kenya in 2008
to track and map political violence there.
or ‘testimony’ in Swahili, Ushahidi has grown over the
years to become a free to use, online mapping system, used around
the world to report and track issues like violence and corruption.
The technology is already used in Zimbabwe to map and report corruption
through the ‘I
paid a bribe’ anonymous reporting website. A political
violence map was also started using Ushahidi in 2011 by the blog
SW Radio Africa was unable
to get confirmation from the ZPP about their reported involvement
in the Ushahidi programme. Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone
was unreachable on Monday because she is currently abroad. But the
minister has previously said she has no power over the country’s
police, despite her position.
the Director of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, said that targeting any NGO for trying
to monitor violence is a clear form of persecution.
“What is wrong
if people are trying set up this platform? This is citizen policing
to ensure violence is monitored and prevented. What is wrong with
that? That is not illegal,” Lewanika said.
from the National
Association of NGOs (NANGO) told SW Radio Africa that the attempts
to criminalise the work of civic groups “make advocacy and
lobbying very difficult.”
“When you are tracking
violence, the point is to have an early warning system in place
to come up with appropriate intervention. But when it is criminalised
it means there is someone who is intending to ensure violence is
not monitored properly,” Marongwe said.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.