Daily Archives: 22/09/2021

ATTACKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS IN ZIMBABWE

21/09/21

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The latest research report by the ZLHR highlights the current situation of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The report outlines the political situation in Zimbabwe, as well the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally the report demonstrates how lawyers in Zimbabwe have been barred from representing their clients, have become subjects to arbitrary arrests, and have even been attacked for practicing their profession. Read on for more on this.

Introduction

Lawyers play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and the protection of human rights, including the rights to effective remedy, due process of law, fair trial and the right of freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Their work is indispensable for public confidence in the administration of justice, and to ensure effective justice for all. All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their choice to provide legal services. It is the responsibility of lawyers to protect and establish the rights of citizens from whatever manner in which those rights may be threatened and defend them in all stages of legal proceedings. To fulfil their professional duties effectively, lawyers should be able to practice law independently in accordance with recognized laws, standards and ethics. They should be free from improper interferences, any fear of reprisals, or unreasonable restrictions.

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Attacks against lawyers

The beginning of 2020 saw an increase in the number of arrests of Zimbabwean lawyers, and in the restrictions placed on lawyers in their freedoms to carry out their profession. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and government enforced restrictions, resulted in an increase in these numbers. Alec Muchadehama, a human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, describes the situation of lawyers under the lockdown as follows:

“ [W]e had insurmountable difficulties moving to police stations and the Courts. We would be frisked at the check points. We would not be allowed to pass despite identifying ourselves as lawyers. Whilst we were prevented from reaching our clients, they were being over detained and being held incommunicado. The case of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova makes sad reading. They were kidnapped by suspected State security agents. On 5 May 2020 they temporarily disappeared and were discovered 36 hours later, severely tortured. They are now facing allegations of breaking the COVID-19 regulations and spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the State.”

Recommendations

L4L and ZLHR call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that lawyers in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. In its task of promoting and ensuring the proper role of lawyers, the Government of Zimbabwe should respect, and take account of, the Basic Principles within the framework of its national legislation and practice. Adherence to the Basic Principles is considered a fundamental pre-condition to fulfilling the requirement that all persons have effective access to legal assistance and representation. Furthermore, as a member of the African Union and the UN, and as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Zimbabwe has legal obligations to adopt measures that effectively ensure rights to liberty, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and fair trial.

You can access the full report here (783KB PDF)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe_Lawyers_for_Human_Rights#:~:text=Zimbabwe%20Lawyers%20for%20Human%20Rights%20(ZLHR)%20is%20a%20not%20for,of%20the%20rule%20of%20law.

Hong Kong group supporting mainland China lawyers to disband after police demand information citing national security law

21/09/21

Members of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group hold a protest in 2017 over the treatment of the profession on the mainland. Photo: Dickson Lee
  • China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group says it will dissolve this month and has already started voluntary liquidation procedure
  • But the group does not say what information police were seeking or whether it complied with the request

A Hong Kong group founded to support human rights lawyers in mainland China has announced it will disband, a decision coinciding with a deadline for the organisation to provide police with information requested on national security grounds.

The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group will be the latest in a run of Hong Kong civic bodies to dissolve following Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on the city last year.

Two prominent opposition-leaning bodies – the Professional Teachers’ Union and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions – have ceased operations in the past month amid warnings from authorities and attacks from pro-Beijing mouthpieces over alleged national security violations.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the city’s annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, is also set to vote on its disbandment on Saturday.

Hong Kong’s national security police last month wrote to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group demanding its leaders submit relevant information as requested.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, also the deadline for submission, the group said it had decided to disband and had already replied to the force’s letter of inquiry dated August 25.

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https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3149601/hong-kong-group-supporting-mainland-china-lawyers-announces

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/group-09212021150247.html

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/180573/China-Human-Rights-Lawyers-Concern-Group-announces-disbandment

https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1610339-20210913.htm

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyer-torture-09212021083912.html