The Law Society of Zimbabwe notes with grave concern and condemns the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, including the wanton and unmitigated attacks on legal practitioners carrying out their Constitutionally protected jobs of representing citizens, by the State or certain of its organs.
It is unacceptable that remand prisoners such as Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivume should have to incur legal expense in order to enforce respect by the State of simple and obvious rights such as private counsel with their lawyers, access to clothing and food, and not being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in prison, amongst other rights clearly spelt out in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Remand prisoners remain innocent until proven guilty.
We condemn the arrest of innocent citizens, not wanted for any crime, but simply because they are related to a suspect and are seemingly being used as bait, in gross violation of their right to liberty, such as in the case of Mduduzi Mathuthu’s sister, Nomagugu Mathuthu.
We also condemn the illegal and wanton use of unnecessary force by State Security Services in the enforcement of lockdown regulations, such as in Beitbridge, where police officers set dogs on unarmed and non-violent civilians, causing extensive injuries to some who had to be hospitalized, simply because the citizens failed to get public transport home before 6 pm. Such arbitrariness and use of violence by arms of the State undermines the Constitution and the rule of law.
The Law Society further condemns the abduction and torture of citizens across the country by State Security agents and individuals allegedly unknown but clearly aligned to the State, with the case of Mduduzi Mathuthu’s nephew, Tawanda Muchehiwa being a sad example of such after he was abducted and severely tortured and only produced at court after the intervention of the High Court following a petition by his diligent lawyer.
We call upon the State to seriously investigate these cases and bring these perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice.
It is extremely concerning that no arrests have been made or action taken against known State officials who have knowingly committed these human rights abuses.
Urgent action to reverse and eradicate these abuses needs to be taken by the State as a tangible assurance to the nation that the State does not approve of this conduct and that it has no hand in these activities. Failure to do so renders the State complicit.
—Law Society of Zimbabwe