Zimbabwe: Illegal Arrest and Detention of Human Rights Lawyers Must Stop

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FREETOWN-18.03.2013: The African Lawyers for the Defense of Civil Society Network calls for the immediate release of Beatrice Mtetwa who was unlawfully arrested and detained on the 17th March 2013 in Harare, a few hours after the constitutional referendum. She is currently still in police custody at Rhodesville police station despite a High Court order served on the police early this morning ordering for her release.

Beatrice Mtetwa was unlawfully arrested at the scene of a police raid on her client’s home after requesting for a valid search warrant and inventory list for materials that had already been removed by the police.

“We’ve observed a catalogue of failings by the state to protect human rights and the flagrant impunity of state agents continues to thrive in Zimbabwe. Human rights lawyers and defenders have sustained many attempts to curtail their rights to freedom of expression and association. It is time for the Government to reverse this retrogressive trend and make a strong commitment to respect and protect fundamental human rights, said Stephanie Muchai the Co-Chairperson of the African Lawyers for the Defense of Civil Society Network”

Mtetwa is charged with defeating and/or obstructing the course of justice under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Police handcuffed Mtetwa for protesting and proceeded to unlawfully confiscate her mobile phone containing privileged lawyer-client communication. She was held in an unmarked police vehicle whilst searches proceeded at her client’s home and office in the absence of legal representation. She was consequently detained at Rhodesville police station at 5.30pm yesterday.

Police have further refused to comply with a High Court Order for her release despite being advised that their actions are in contempt of court.

The African Lawyers for the Defense of Civil Society Network stands in solidarity with Beatrice Mtetwa, her lawyers, and others calling for a stand against the intimidation and harassment of human rights lawyers and underscores the right of these lawyers to carry out their professional duties without hindrance, vilification and degradation.

ENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Please contact:

Emmanuel Saffi Abdulai, Chairperson of the African Lawyers for the Defence of Civil Society Network info@aalchambers.com; measdrb@gmail.com or call +232-33-647-456 ; +23276647456

OR

Stephanie Muchai, Co-Chairperson of the African Lawyers for the Defence of Civil Society Network, muchai@article19.org or call +254 727 862 230

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