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MMPZ statement on staffers' bail suspension
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
December 09, 2011
Gwanda magistrate Mr Douglas Zvenyika granted $50 bail to MMPZ staffers
Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda, and MMPZ's Gwanda Public
Information Rights Forum chairman Gilbert Mabusa, with no reporting
and detention by Gwanda police on Monday, December 5th on charges
of contravening some provisions of the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
prosecutor Blessing Gundani responded to the magistrate's
ruling by immediately invoking Section 121 of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA), which effectively suspends
the magistrate's order for seven days to allow the state to
file an appeal against the order in the High Court.
In other words, the state
has successfully managed to deprive Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert of
their constitutionally guaranteed right to liberty for at least
another seven days, despite the fact that Magistrate Zvenyika did
not consider the three to be a "flight risk" as argued
by the state in opposing their bail appeal.
MMPZ understands that
the state today added an alternative charge of undermining the authority
of the President against the MMPZ officials in contravention of
Section 33 of the Criminal Code law. The state did not explain the
circumstances in which the three are alleged to have committed this
Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert,
were originally charged with contravening section 25(1) (b) of the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA), for allegedly 'participating
in a gathering without seeking authority from the regulating authority'.
They are also accused of contravening section 37(1) (b) of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act, by 'distributing material
likely to provoke a breach of peace' when they were arrested
Section 121 of the CPEA
clearly allows prosecutors to usurp the powers of judicial officers
and its constitutionality is being challenged in a number of cases
that have yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.
MMPZ believes that invoking
Section 121 in this case represents a malicious action by the state
that unnecessarily deprives Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert of their right
In a statement
issued today by Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), whose members are representing
the three MMPZ officials, the organization said:
"The frequent abuse
of this draconian piece of legislation (Section 121) is being used
to the prejudice of suspects as prosecutors are clearly usurping
the powers of the judiciary who, in this case, had safeguarded the
fundamental right to liberty of December, Chimhanda and Mabusa.
The pressing of a new charge against the MMPZ officials is sufficient
confirmation that the State is determined to deprive these human
rights defenders of their liberty and keep them in detention at
MMPZ is obliged to concur.
the MMPZ fact
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