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  • Zimbabwean lawyers march to demand justice for detainees in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 29, 2019.

    Zimbabwean lawyers march to demand justice for detainees in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 January 2019

Since Jan. 14, Zimbabwe has experienced intense daily demonstrations, during which more than 1,000 people have been arrested.

Over 150 lawyers participated in the "March for Justice" to the Constitutional Court in Harare, Zimbabwe Tuesday to call for the restoration of the Rule of Law, compliance with the Constitution and respect for human rights.

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According to Africa Metro, a local media, Zimbabwe's lawyers submitted a petition to the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, Walter Chikwanha, to denounce the abusive procedures of the country's security forces.

“The continual deployment of the army to attend to issues within the distinct and exclusive province of the specially commissioned police service, the use of disproportionate force by the security forces to effect arrest of unarmed civilians including use of live ammunition, beatings and nocturnal raids on private dwellings,” the petition denounced and added that “dragnet arrest and prolonged mass detention including the detention of minor children in police custody, abduction of suspects or their close relatives by suspected State security agents, members of the Zimbabwe National Army and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.”

The lawyers also expressed their concern for practices contrary to human rights, which have been carried out by Zimbabwe's military and security agents while attempting to extract information from detainees.

“The wanton arrest, abuse, rape and sexual assault of defenceless women and children by members of the security forces, detention of suspects at undesignated locations in contravention of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, denial of entry into police stations to members of the legal profession and/or denial of access to legal representation of some clients at some police stations upon arrest particularly at inter-alia, Mabvuku, Epworth, Braeside and Makoni police stations,” the lawyers’ petition states .

Since Jan. 14, Zimbabwe has experienced intense daily demonstrations, during which more than 1,000 people have been arrested.

The popular discontent started to stage a three-day strike against increases in fuel prices. However, the initial demonstrations were transformed into a broader movement against President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In Tuesday's march, which was closely monitored by the riot police, Zimbabwean lawyers carried banners demanding that the systemic beatings of people be stopped and that justice not be politicized or militarized.

The repression experienced over the past month has worried human rights organizations, which fear a return to the authoritarian rule that characterized the era of ex-President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country for 37 years from 1980 to 2017.

According to Zimbabwean human rights groups, at least 12 people died during the January riots.


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