29 January 2019
ZIM LAWYERS TAKE TO THE STREETS TO PROTEST AGAINST EROSION OF RULE OF LAW AND DEMAND RESPECT FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
HUNDREDS of lawyers on Tuesday 29 January 2019 took to the streets of Harare in a march to protest against the erosion of the rule of law and demand respect for human rights in Zimbabwe.
The lunchtime protest started at the Law Society of Zimbabwe offices along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue past the High Court and Munhumutapa Building, which houses the offices of President Emmerson Mnangagwa along Samora Machel Avenue and ended at Mashonganyika Building, which houses the Constitutional and Supreme Court, where the lawyers led by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) board member Beatrice Mtetwa, handed over a petition addressed to Chief Justice Luke Malaba.
The lawyers’ petition was received by Judicial Service Commission Acting Secretary Walter Chikwana, who undertook to hand over the petition to Chief Justice Malaba.
The lawyers wore their regalia and waved placards and posters denouncing the erosion of the rule of law, and non-compliance with the Constitution.
Some of the placards read;
“We Demand Return to Rule Of Law”, “Justice Must Not Only Be Done, But
It Must Seen To Be Done”, “No To Judicial Capture”, “No To Command
Justice”, Respect The Constitution” among other messages.
In the petition, the lawyers bemoaned the ill-treatment and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms for hundreds of people who were arrested since 14 January 2019 and charged for committing several offences ranging from subverting constitutional government and public violence.
“In addition, we are faced with inordinately expedited trials dismally falling below the elementary achievable standards of fair trial set out in section 69 of the Constitution. The “fast track trial” practice predictably denies lawyers sufficient time to consult clients and prepare adequate defence which violates accused persons’ rights in terms of section 70)(1)(c) of the Constitution……..It is the duty of the State to ensure lawyers are granted sufficient time to enable them to provide effective legal assistance to their clients. The judiciary as the arm of state assigned the role of vigilantly overseeing to the provision of justice, is enjoined to see to the effectuation of this duty,” reads part of the lawyers’ petition.
The lawyers also protested against the deployment of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to attend to issues which should be handled by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, the use of disproportionate force by the country’s security forces, dragnet arrests, the detention of minor children, abduction of suspects, the use of live ammunition and torture of civilians, abuse, rape and sexual assault of defenceless women and denial of entry into police stations to legal practitioners among other concerns.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
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