Promoting Human Rights & Rule of Law in South Africa
22 March, 2013
African Legal Bodies Express Outrage at Continued Detention of Beatrice Mtetwa,
Says Joint Statement
Johannesburg – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), SADC Lawyers Association (SADC LA) and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) have expressed their outrage at the continued detention of Zimbabwean lawyer and human rights activist, Beatrice Mtetwa, after she was denied bail by Harare Magistrate, Marehwanazvo Gofa on the 20th of March 2013. This was despite the fact that Mtetwa was improperly before the court after the police had refused to comply with a High Court order to release her.
It is perturbing that the Police would use a lower Court, to undermine a standing decision of a higher Court, and that the lower Court would allow itself to be so used. Moreover, it is absurd that Mtetwa, a lawyer of 30 years’ standing in Zimbabwe, could be denied bail on the basis that she would interfere with police investigations.
While the ICJ, PALU, SADC LA and SALC have learnt with disappointment of the postponement of Mtetwa’s bail appeal hearing from the 22nd of March 2013 to the 25th of March 2013, they have faith that Mtetwa will be vindicated and will be released by the High Court.
The concerted efforts to keep Mtetwa behind bars represent a calculated attempt by sections of the Zimbabwean Government to break her spirit and deter her from representing the many Zimbabweans who daily face harassment and intimidation from the state’s security services. Over the years, Mtetwa has stood by these victims of government and police repression and is regarded as a hindrance by the police and security sector to their illegal activities.
The action against Mtetwa is a threat to the legal profession in Zimbabwe – intended to alarm lawyers and intimidate them from providing independent representation. As the country edges towards elections, the persecution of lawyers and other actors can only be expected to escalate, judging from the number of civil society representatives and human rights defenders who have fallen victim to police harassment in the past few weeks.
The police’s actions stand in marked contrast to calls by the most senior political authorities in Zimbabwe for peace and tolerance as the country moves towards elections. That no heed is paid to these calls by the police force is indicative of the widespread and endemic impunity enjoyed by the security sector. It is the clearest indication that, as matters stand, there exists little prospect for free and fair elections.
The ICJ, PALU, SADC LA and SALC urge the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as the Guarantor of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement and President Jacob Zuma as the mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis to take action and urge the Government of Zimbabwe to release Mtetwa from prison and end the politically-motivated persecution of her.
We also urge the African Union and the international community to prevail upon the Zimbabwean Government to release Mtetwa.
Last but not least, we call on the police and the judiciary in Zimbabwe to discharge their duties in an independent and impartial manner if the people of Zimbabwe are to have confidence in the judicial system as the country moves towards elections.
For more information contact:
Arnold Tsunga, ICJ Africa Director, firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: +27 73 131 8411
Gilberto Correia SADC LA Vice President, Bastonario@oam.moz.org Tel: +258825019740.
Don Deya, PALU Chief Executive Officer, email@example.com. + 255 27 254 3192
Receive latest news from SALC
Latest Blog Posts
- JUDGMENT IN TAPELA AND OTHERS V ATTORNEY GENERAL AND OTHERS: HIGH COURT UPHOLDS RIGHTS OF FOREIGN PRISONERS
- Swaziland Briefing Paper – Infringements of Freedom of Expression
- The Need for a Balanced Debate on Swaziland and AGOA
- Human Rights in the Time of Ebola
- WHY BRICS MUST SUPPORT THE ARMS TRADE TREATY
- SALC IN THE NEWS: QUIET DEATH OF AN IMPORTANT SADC INSTITUTION
- STATEMENT: CONTINUING CLAMP DOWN ON FREE SPEECH IN SWAZILAND
- SALC IN THE NEWS: AFRICAN STATES – REJECT IMMUNITY FOR LEADERS – 141 GROUPS IN 40 COUNTRIES SPEAK OUT
- SALC IN THE NEWS: HIGH COURT INSTRUCTS BOTSWANA TO PROVIDE FREE ARVS TO FOREIGN PRISONERS
- BOTSWANA: BOTSWANA ORDERED TO PROVIDE ARV’S TO FOREIGN INMATES
- SALC LITIGATION MANUAL: LITIGATING CASES INVOLVING VIOLATIONS OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RIGHTS
- NEWS RELEASE: SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL ORDERS SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE TO INVESTIGATE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED IN ZIMBABWE
- International Criminal Justice in 2013, a Year of Ups and Downs
- No Justice for the Poor: A Preliminary Study of the Law and Practice Relating to Arrests for Nuisance-Related Offences in Blantyre, Malawi
- Media Advisory: No Justice for the Poor-Human Rights Groups Report Highlights Use of Outdated Vagrancy Laws by Police in Malawi
- UNDERSTANDING THE ZIMBABWE TORTURE CASE
- SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL JUDGMENT IN ZIMBABWE TORTURE CASE: A VICTORY FOR LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE
- SALC LETTER TO SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT- SUPPORTING THE FIGHT AGAINST IMPUNITY AND ENCOURAGING INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
- SALC IN THE NEWS: SOUTH AFRICA CAUSES BLUSHES IN HANDLING OF POLICY ON SYRIA
- MEDIA ADVISORY: TRIAL OF ZAMBIAN HIV ACTIVIST TO START IN LUSAKA