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crackdown: Yet another false start to Chikomo’s trial
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
The trial of
Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum for allegedly running an “unregistered”
organisation suffered yet another false start on Monday 14 October
2013 after Harare Magistrate Tendai Mahwe postponed the case to
Monday 28 October 2013.
trial had been rescheduled to commence on Monday 14 October 2013
could not start as the State’s house was not in order prompting
prosecutors to seek for the postponement of the matter, a request
which was opposed by Chikomo’s lawyer, Selby Hwacha of Dube
Manikai and Hwacha Legal Practitioners, who is also a board member
for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Magistrate Mahwe postponed
the trial to Monday 28 October 2013.
claim that Chikomo contravened Section 6 (3) of the Private
Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act Chapter 17:15 after he allegedly
conducted some activities without being registered with the Social
Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
which Chikomo denies, came after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum,
a non-governmental umbrella organisation conducted a survey on transitional
justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
The State says
this was illegal since the organisation is not registered as a PVO.
The State claims that he unlawfully instructed two of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum’s employees to commence or carry out
a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the intention to
obtain people's recommendations on the preferred transitional justice
mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organization registering with
the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
Last year, Chikomo’s
trial on the same charges, which first arose in February 2011, was
shelved after State prosecutor Innocent Chingarande withdrew summons
issued against him as the State was not ready to proceed with the
Over the past
two years, Chikomo has been interrogated and asked to report to
the police station on several occasions on the activities carried
out by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
judicial persecution to which Chikomo has been subjected for more
than two years is yet another official harassment of civic organisations
and human rights defenders operating in Zimbabwe.
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