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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

ZIMBABWE

10th February 2009

 Two rights lawyers

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   Roselyn Hanzi  and  Tawanda Zhuwarara

 arrested as they attempted to get access to eight members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) arrested earlier after a demonstration in central Harare.

 

 

UPDATE : A Harare Magistrate on Thursday 12 February 2009 granted free bail to lawyers .

   Roselyn Hanzi and  Tawanda Zhuwarara, and all members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were acquitted on May 28 th, 2009.




Source : ZLHR and FRONTLINE (letter)

 

 

 

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 WOZA members.

.“Two 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 against them.

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 :

 

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.

 

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 Zimbabwe.

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 its premises.

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 Zimbabwe.

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.

 

 ADRESSES: 

President Robert Gabriel Mugabe,
Office of the President,
Munhumutapa Building,
Samora Machel Avenue,
Causewy,
Harare,
Zimbabwe

LETTER: 

Your Excellency,

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 released.

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 peacefully.

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 WOZA ;

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.

Yours sincerely

 

 

TAKE ACTION NOW !

 

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