Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, from the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were arrested at the Harare
Central Police Station where they had gone to enquire about the detained
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara
were arrested this afternoon while they were responding to the arrests of
WOZA members,“ ZLHR director Irene Petras told reporters.
“They are detained at the Harare Central
Police Station and their lawyers are also being denied access to them.“
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
wishes to express its concern and condemn the ongoing harassment of human
rights defenders through indiscriminate arrests and detention.
Ms Roselyn Hanzi and Mr Tawanda Zhuwarara, project lawyers at ZLHR, were
arrested by unidentified members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on
10 February 2009 as they were returning to the office (situated next to
the Parliament building) after lunch. Regrettably, they were caught in
the crossfire of further indiscriminate arrests carried out by the ZRP
arising from a demonstration outside Parliament building in Harare by the
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). With the complicity of Parliamentary
staff, they were unlawfully detained in the Parliament Guard Room, until
police details removed them to Harare Central police station.
In contravention of constitutional protective provisions relating to
detained persons, but in the customary fashion of the ZRP, lawyers who
attempted to get access to Hanzi and Zhuwarara at Harare Central were
denied access by the police. Superintendent Chinhengo, the Officer in
Charge of Operations at Harare Central ordered the lawyers out of the
police station’s vicinity.
Despite further attempts by ZLHR to have their colleagues released, the
two were detained overnight at Harare Central Police Station without
their lawyers being able to speak to them, or being told the charges
On 11 February 2009, ZLHR lawyers were finally able to have access to
them. Despite members of the Law and Order section acknowledging that the
two were “caught in the crossfire”, Detective Inspector Elliot Muchada,
instructed Detective Assistant Inspector Phiri (female) and DC Musademba
to proceed to charge them, together with 8 women who were also arrested
outside Parliament, with contravening section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act. They are likely to spend a second
night in custody.
On 11 February 2009, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR launched a
Human Rights Defenders Alert :
for Human Rights (ZLHR) wishes to express its concern and condemn the
ongoing harassment of human rights defenders through indiscriminate
arrests and detention.
ZLHR unreservedly condemns the now
commonplace and illegal phenomenon of members of the ZRP indiscriminately
and without reasonable suspicion arresting and detaining innocent
civilians and then denying lawyers access to their clients and barring
them from taking proper instructions.
The arrest and detention of lawyers together with alleged WOZA members is
a clear indication that basic freedoms in the country remain
circumscribed; that the continued detention and violation of such rights
occurred at the very time that the inclusive government was being
established merely indicates that we have a long way to go before there
is return to the rule of law and respect for the Constitution of
ZLHR further remains gravely concerned that Parliament allowed itself to
be used in the facilitation of a criminal offence, whereby unlawful
arrests and detention were perpetuated as the lawyers were detained on
The continued breach of various provisions of the Interparty Political
Agreement signed on 15 September 2008, in which the three political
parties represented in Parliament undertook to protect the security of
persons and to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms would be
respected, must be condemned in the strongest of terms.
ZLHR calls upon the police and the appropriate commanding authorities to
see to it that immediate action is taken to release Ms Hanzi and Mr
Zhuwarara together with the WOZA members and that the offending
individuals are made to answer for their unlawful actions.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW !
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please take action on behalf of the members of
Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights and WOZA currently in detention in
Copy the enclosed letter
and send it to the address provided.
Thank you for taking action
on behalf of the members of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights and WOZA.
President Robert Gabriel
Office of the President,
Samora Machel Avenue,
I am concerned following reports that two members of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Ms Roselyn Hanzi and Mr Tawanda
Zhuwarara, and eight members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were
arrested on 10 February 2009 by unidentified members of the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP). Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara are project
lawyers with ZLHR.
The eight members of WOZA arrested are: Ms Nelia Hambarume, Ms
Clara Bongwe,Ms Auxilia Tarumbwa, Ms Gracy Mutambachirimo, Ms Linda Moyo,
Ms Keure Chikomo, Ms Edina Saidi, and Ms Kundai Mupfukudzwa.
On 10 February 2009, unidentified members of the ZRP arrested
eight members of WOZA following a peaceful demonstration organised by
WOZA outside the Parliament building in Harare. On their way back to
their office, which is next to the Parliament building, Roselyn Hanzi and
Tawanda Zhuwarara were also arrested by unidentified members of the ZRP.
Both were detained in the Parliament Guard Room before being moved to
Harare Central police station.
Lawyers were not allowed access to them and were ordered out of
the premises of the police station by Superintendent Chinhengo. Roselyn
Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara were detained overnight without being told
what the reason of their arrest was, despite ZLHR's attempts to have them
On 11 February 2009, they were allowed access to ZLHR lawyers.
Members of the Law and Order section acknowledged that Roselyn Hanzi and
Tawanda Zhuwarara had been “caught in the crossfire” of the arrests of
demonstrators. Nevertheless, Detective Assistant Inspector Phiri and DC
Musadema were still instructed by Detective Inspector Elliot Muchada to
charge them, as well as the eight members of WOZA who had been arrested
outside Parliament, under section 37 (1) (b) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act.
I believe that the arrest and detention of the aforementioned
members of ZLHR and WOZA is directly related to their work in the defence
of human rights. I am concerned that this forms part of an ongoing trend
of harassment by the ZRP against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe,
especially against those wishing to exercise their right to demonstrate
I urge the authorities in Zimbabwe to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release all of the
aforementioned members of ZLHR and WOZA, as Front Line believes that they
are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work
in the defence of human rights;
2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation
into the arrest and detention of the aforementioned members of ZLHR and
3. Ensure that the treatment of the aforementioned members of
ZLHR and WOZA while in detention adheres to all those conditions set out
in the Basic Principles for Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by General
Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990;
4. Take measures to end all intimidation of human rights
defenders in Zimbabwe so that they are free to continue with their
activities in defence of human rights without fear of reprisal.
ACTION NOW !