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  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Indignation over Maguwu issue
    The SADC Lawyers' Association
    June 29, 2010

    The Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association (SADC LA) wishes to express its indignation over the denial of bail of Farai Maguwu and his continued detention despite his apparent poor health. Farai is the Director of the Centre for Research and Development, a human rights Non Governmental Organization in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The organization has been at the forefront of documenting human rights abuses and violations in Zimbabwe's controversial Marange/Chiadzwa Diamond Fields.

    We are particularly concerned with the ruling of Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on 21 June 2010 following a bail application by Farai's lawyers. The judge in his ruling made statements which put into doubt the court's impartiality and raises questions about whether or not Farai was afforded a free and fair hearing. Of concern is the Judge's pronouncement that Farai's "behaviour is treacherous and abominable". Even though the Judge qualified this statement, we have always urged Judges and other judicial officers to be modest and temperate in the use of language so as to instil confidence on the fairness and impartiality of courts in those appearing before the courts in particular and members of the public in general.

    The Judge also concluded that "it [was] common cause that the report {in the court's possession} in fact contained prima facie false statements" made by Farai and that the evidence was "damning" without the benefit of a trial to warrant such conclusions. On the other hand the judge was reluctant to accept the defence's submissions that Farai was ill-treated, denied access to medical attention and unlawfully removed from remand prison by state agents because "it would be wrong and injudicious for the courts to hastily move in and condemn one party or the other without a proper enquiry into the allegations and before everyone concerned has had a say". This is a clear case of application of double standards more so considering that these inconsistencies are in the same ruling.

    With the Kimberly Process Certification Meeting underway in Tel Aviv, Israel, the continued detention of Farai raises questions about the real motive behind his arrest and gives credence to arguments that he is being detained to stop him from attending the meeting and providing information that he has on human rights abuses and violations in Marange/Chiadzwa.

    We therefore call for the immediate release of Farai and urge our courts to dispense justice fairly and impartially regardless of the nature of the case before them.

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