Retour page d'accueil

IDHAE World  Globebservatory for Defence Rights and attacks against lawyers

OTHER IDHAE - URGENT APPEALS

OBSERVATORY FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Amnesty nternational – Worldwide appeals

Human Rights Watch Campaigns (HRW)

Centre pour l'indépendance des magistrats et des avocats

Digital Freedom Network

International Freedom of Expression Exchange

Asia Human Rights Alert

Retour page d'accueil

ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

ZIMBABWE

 

2nd November 2009

 

 

Human rights

and media lawyer

Mordecai Mahlangu

arrested for allegedly

writing a letter to Attorney General  .

 

Source : ZLHR– ZimOnline

 .

 

 

 

 

 Zimbabwean police on 2 November 2009 arrested human rights and media lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu on alleged grounds of ‘obstructing the course of justice’  for   writing a letter to Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana  in connection with a case involving Roy Bennett, the Treasurer General of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)’s Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police Station led by the notorious Detective Inspector Henry Sostein Dowa arrested Mahlangu, a senior partner with Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans from his Harare offices and detained him overnight at the police station.

The police accused Mahlangu, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) of writing a letter to Tomana protesting against the subpoena directing Peter Hitschmann, to testify in Deputy Agriculture Minister Designate and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer-General Roy Bennett's trial despite the fact that his statements were extracted through torture.
 

Mahlangu’s lawyers from the rights group ZLHR are attending to the human rights lawyer at Harare Central Police Station.

Bennett, whom President Robert has refused to swear in as Deputy Agriculture Minister is to stand trial later this month on terrorism charges.

 

Zimbabwe’s lawyers will this month boycott work to protest alleged harassment and persecution by state security agents and the Attorney General's   office.

The lawyers decided to boycott work on November 16   following the arrest  of Mordecai Mahlangu   : "We have resolved to boycott our court duties on November 16 and attend Mahlangu's court case as a show of protest. We will also write a letter of complaint to the Minister of Justice (Patrick Chinamasa), AG, Police Commissioner (Augustine Chihuri) and High Court Judge President (Rita Makarau) outlining our complaints against the manner and conduct of the AG," said Chris Mhike, an LSZ representative.

"There is also the possibility of boycotting the 2010 opening of the judicial year at the High Court if our concerns are not addressed by that time," he added.

A number of lawyers have been arrested during the year, particularly those handling cases related to politics and human rights issues. Among those arrested and charged by the state is Alec Muchadehama who is on trial for attempting to defeat the course of justice when he went to the High Court to demand the release of a client who had been granted bail.

The planned protest will be the second such action by lawyers this year after they staged another protest last May following the arrest of Muchadehama. However Chinamasa did not give the lawyers an audience.

Of particular concern to the lawyers is the continued arrests and what they allege is unprofessional behaviour by the AG.

Tomana, a self proclaimed ZANU PF sympathiser, is regarded as among hardliner supporters of President Robert Mugabe working to derail the power-sharing government between the veteran President and his former opposition foes Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara.

Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party have questioned Tomana’s tenure at the AG’s department, insisting that he must be dismissed because Mugabe did not consult his coalition partners before appointing him to the post.

Under the global political agreement that gave birth to Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government Mugabe must consult his coalition partners before making senior appointments.

 

 

 

The  European Bar Human Rights Institute  believes that the letter sent by Mordecai Mahlangu was clearly a legitimate exercise of his functions and responsibilities as lawyer, in line with internationally recognized professional standards of conduct. He was also acting to defend the human rights of his client, in connection with alleged serious human rights violations involving torture.

 

 

The  European Bar Human Rights Institute  expresses its serious concern at the unlawful detention and prosecution of Mordecai Mahlangu.

 

The IDHAE considers his detention to constitute an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the charges against him an attack against the legitimate exercise of his professional functions as a lawyer.

 

IDHAE condemns this unlawful conduct of Zimbabwean law enforcement officers, which appears consistent with an ongoing pattern and practice in Zimbabwe of undermining the rights and professional obligations of lawyers to defend their clients. It also undermines the rights of those clients to a fair trial.

Such practices violate the Zimbabwean Bill of Rights as well as international law and standards on the right to a fair trial and the role of the legal profession.

The Government of Zimbabwe is under an obligation to ensure that lawyers carry out their professional duties without fear, intimidation, obstruction, harassment, persecution or unwarranted interference.

 

IDHAE  calls for the charges against him to be unconditionally and immediately dropped.

 

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.

SEND A LETTER TO :

   President Robert G. Mugabe
   Office of the President
   Munhumutapa Building
   Samora Machel Avenue
   Box 7700 Causeway
   Harare
   Zimbabwe

 

 

[Your name here]

 

Your Excellency

 

I would like to express my concern about the situation of  my colleague human rights and media lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu, a senior partner with Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans and a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR),  from his Harare offices.

Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)’s Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police Station led by the notorious Detective Inspector Henry Sostein Dowa arrested Mahlangu and detained him overnight at the police station arrested on  02 November 2009 on alleged grounds of ‘obstructing the course of justice’ .

.

I believe that Mordecai Mahlangu, acting as legal counsel for Peter Hitschmann, a key witness in that case, had addressed the letter to the Attorney General in protest at a subpoena issued to his client to testify against Roy Bennett. The protest was based on the consideration that Peter Hitschmann had allegedly been subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting false submissions in order to secure Mr. Bennett’s conviction.

 

 

The police accused Mahlangu, of writing a letter to Tomana protesting against the subpoena directing Peter Hitschmann, to testify in Deputy Agriculture Minister Designate and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer-General Roy Bennett's trial despite the fact that his statements were extracted through torture.
 
The  European Bar Human Rights Institute  believes that the letter sent by Mordecai Mahlangu was clearly a legitimate exercise of his functions and responsibilities as lawyer, in line with internationally recognized professional standards of conduct. He was also acting to defend the human rights of his client, in connection with alleged serious human rights violations involving torture.

 

I  consider  his detention to constitute an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the charges against him an attack against the legitimate exercise of his professional functions as a lawyer.

 

I  condemn  this unlawful conduct of Zimbabwean law enforcement officers, which appears consistent with an ongoing pattern and practice in Zimbabwe of undermining the rights and professional obligations of lawyers to defend their clients. It also undermines the rights of those clients to a fair trial.

Such practices violate the Zimbabwean Bill of Rights as well as international law and standards on the right to a fair trial and the role of the legal profession.

The Government of Zimbabwe is under an obligation to ensure that lawyers carry out their professional duties without fear, intimidation, obstruction, harassment, persecution or unwarranted interference.

 

I urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the charges against him will be unconditionally and immediately dropped.

 

Yours sincerely

 

[Signature]

 


THANK YOU.

 

 

page precedente

haut de la page

page suivante

 

Copyright © 2008 IDHAE - European Bar Human Rights Institute.

 

-->