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calls on Zimbabwean judiciary to respect the role of lawyers
Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
August 22, 2013
Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) condemns the judgment
issued by Zimbabwean High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu on 20
August 2013 in the matter
of Tsvangirai v Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and others.
In particular, SALC is
alarmed at Judge Bhunu's order that lawyers acting for Tsvangirai
- Lewis Uriri, Alec Muchadehama and Tarisai Mutangi - be subjected
to punitive action by the attorney general and prosecuting authority.
"Judge Bhunu makes
this outrageous punitive order directed at the lawyers ostensibly
to protect the integrity of the judiciary," said Nicole Fritz,
Director of SALC. "But there can be no surer way of bringing
the courts into disrepute than by having a judge issue orders in
clear contravention of the uniformly recognised and upheld principles
protecting the legal profession."
The UN Basic Principles
on the Role of Lawyers stipulate that, "lawyers shall not be
identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result
of discharging their functions." Furthermore, "lawyers
shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made
in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional
appearances before a court."
ire was provoked by the inclusion in the papers submitted before
the court by Tsvangirai of the statement that the 'judiciary is
not independent from the executive, and politically, from Zanu-PF'
- as well as the uncontroversial claim that President Mugabe appointed
numerous judges to the High Court, Supreme Court and Constitutional
Court without consulting then Prime Minister Tsvangirai, in violation
of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) and the new constitution.
According to Judge Bhunu,
these statements amount to an attack on the dignity and integrity
of the judiciary.
"Bhunu's order appears
calculated to intimidate lawyers and ensure that those who find
themselves in opposition to the new Zimbabwean government will battle
to find legal representation, despite constitutional entitlements,"
said Fritz. "We call on judge Bhunu to rescind his order and
for the judiciary in Zimbabwe to respect the role of lawyers."
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