Heal Zimbabwe condemns continued clampdown on Human Rights Defenders

Heal Zimbabwe Trust condemns the arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders. The arrest of 8 victims assumed to be part of a peaceful demonstration staged by youth over continued unemployment in Zimbabwe is unwelcome. From the 8 arrested, 1 journalist, Angela Jimu who was assaulted and arrested for covering the protest was later released while 7 people including  Hon. Ronia Bunjira, a Member of Parliament were detained overnight.  The 7 appeared at the Harare Magistrate Court today, 19 August 2014 where they were denied bail and remanded in custody to 2 September 2014. This action by the police clearly goes against the SADC ideals of peace, security and human development.

Further, the recent arrest of 29 people from Chingwizi camp on the 3rd of August 2014 cannot be condoned.  Although on the 8th of August, 25 of them were released on bail, 4 of them Clever Chauke, Sofia Tagwirei, Patrick Chagwesha and Mike Mudyanembwa are still in police custody, after being denied bail and remanded to the 5th of September 2014 while their families remain in anguish and live in fear of continued victimization.

Though the 29 were assumed to be part of the Chingwizi unrest involving 300 others, it was noted that the aforementioned 4 victims are leaders of the Chingwizi Residents Association who had taken a petition to the Human Rights Commission outlining the villagers’ expectations from the Government thus the continued victimisation. This is therefore, a clear deprivation and suppression of one’s socio-economic rights expounded by the Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of the Zimbabwean Constitution. Further, the action by the police and judiciary inflates existing fear in communities to participate in political and democratic processes as well as loss of confidence in state institutions that are meant to uphold citizen’s rights. Going forward, the arrests thus have a negative effect on community participation in the operationalisation of other Commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission vital for attaining healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.

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