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Statement on the arrest of Dr Lovemore Madhuku and other NCA activists by the police following a peaceful demonstration in Harare
Trustees of Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
October 23, 2003

The Trustees of the Legal Resources Foundation are dismayed at the arrest on Wednesday 22 October 2003 of Dr Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA Chairperson, and about 400 other NCA activists, for holding a peaceful public demonstration in Harare without Police approval under the notorious Public Order & Security Act (POSA). The LRF is also disturbed at the reported barring by the Police of lawyers seeking access to the arrested persons, and notes that this effectively amounts to denying the arrested persons the right to legal representation. The arrest comes a week after the recent assault by the Police of Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer and activist.

The LRF wishes to restate what it has always stated quite categorically, that POSA is a serious assault on universally accepted and respected rights and freedoms of citizens in any society. Together with other equally repressive laws such as Access to Information & Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), this law virtually takes away the protection and enjoyment of constitutionally-enshrined freedoms of movement, assembly, association and expression.

The insistence by the Government of Zimbabwe in enacting and keeping such laws in our statute books and enforcing them has taken Zimbabweans back to the dark days of the colonial era where repression and a Police state became the order of the day. It is sad to note that after having lived through the Law & Order Maintenance Act and the State of Emergency throughout the Smith regime, Zimbabweans have had to endure the same rule for some years after independence, and eventually have seen the repressive laws being substituted with equally repressive statutes by the post-independence Government. There has therefore simply been no respite from repressive laws for Zimbabweans, who continue to suffer the very same denials of universal rights and freedoms which they suffered under the Smith regime.

Any law which prevents citizens from peacefully exercising their rights and freedoms is immoral and fails to meet the basic standards of a good law, and by the same token fails to earn the respect and compliance of the citizens.

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