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  • Index of articles on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe

  • Police assault lawyers, violently break up march
    May 08, 2007

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    Zimbabwe riot police, on 8 May 2007 assaulted Harare lawyers before violently breaking up a march protesting the illegal arrest and detention of two human rights lawyers.

    Prominent Human Rights lawyers Aleck Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, partners in a law firm Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni were arrested on 4 May 2007 at Harare High Court. Muchadehama and Makoni are lawyers for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and at the time of their arrest they were coming from the High Court were they have lodged various bail applications on behalf of incarcerated opposition activists. They spent the whole weekend in police custody and were only released on bail of Z$500,000 (US$33) each in the evening of 7 May 2007.

    Muchadehama was detained at the notorious Matapi Police Station which was declared by the Supreme Court to be having inhuman and degrading detention conditions.

    During the period of their incarceration, the High Court issued three orders. The first was a "temporary order" directing the police to allow lawyers access to Makoni and Muchadehama and to allow them access to food, medical attention if necessary, and visitation by their relatives, pending the hearing of the matter the following day.

    The second was a consent order which declared that the arrests were unlawful and that Makoni and Muchadehama should be immediately released.

    The third ordered that Makoni and Muchadehama be produced at Harare High Court within an hour of service of that order. The order was served on 6 May 2007 at 18h24 meaning the duo should have been produced at the High Court by 19h24.

    All the orders were ignored by the police who went further to raid the offices of the law firm of Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni taking the two detainees with them. Police proceeded to remove certain files and documents from the offices and did not allow the lawyers to take an inventory or remain present during the search. It is unlawful to search and remove documents from law offices, as they are protected by legal practitioner-client privilege.

    Incensed by the barbaric and uncivilized manner in which the police had conducted themselves in the matter, lawyers decided on a march in solidarity with the two as well as to register their displeasure at police's behaviour. Police however descended on the marchers at High Court where the march was to start and immediately broke the gathering and in the process assaulting the lawyers with truncheons, booted feet and fists.

    MISA-Zimbabwe notes with grave concern the impunity with which the police disregard the law and total lack of decency now perverse in police work. MISA-Zimbabwe, therefore, condemns in no uncertain terms the heavy-handed manner in which police conducted themselves today and in many cases of harassment of innocent citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    Visit the MISA-Zimbabwe fact sheet


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