February 1, 2019
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders, that promotes compliance with international human rights, the integrity of legal systems and the rule of law through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
LRWC objects to Zimbabwe’s failure to respect and protect its citizens’ rights as exemplified by the increasing number of citizens who have been arrested and are facing prosecution for participating in peaceful protests. Also of concern are the numbers of lawyers and human rights defenders who have been threatened, arbitrarily detained and arrested in apparent retaliation for exercising their constitutional rights.
The right to freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and is guaranteed in section 58 of Zimbabwe’s constitution. Furthermore, section 67 guarantees every citizen the right to political participation to engage in peaceful activities to influence, challenge or support the policies of the government. LRWC encourages you to respect these same rights as a signatory to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Recent incidents include the acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) along with his family, and many other ZimRights lawyers. Also of concern is the recent arbitrary arrest and detention of Pastor Evan Magwarire on 16 January 2019, who is facing charges of “subverting a constitutional government” and is scheduled for a bail hearing on 29 January 2019. LRWC is also gravely concerned by the recently revealed attempted deportation of Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent human rights lawyer, to her country of birth Swaziland during the 2013 harmonized election campaign, reports of rapes of women by Zimbawean security forces, the arrests and arbitrary detention of many Zimbabwe citizens and children as young as eleven years old, and the surveillance and intimidation of human rights defenders both within and outside Zimbabwe on their alleged involvement in the protest.