Zimbabwe: Intimidation of Okay Machisa and other members of ZimRights

Urgent Appeal

ZWE 002 / 0119 / OBS 007
January 18, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), and other members of the organisation, in a context of repression of a nation-wide popular protest movement.

According to the information received, in the night of January 17, 2019, around 20 police officers in civilian clothes surrounded Mr. Okay Machisa’s house in Harare with a minibus and two unmarked vehicles, and tried to get Mr. Machisa and his family out of their home. Mr. Machisa and his family managed to temporarily leave their house for a safe place and came back home during the night.

Other members and staff of ZimRights have also faced similar acts of intimidation since the beginning of the protest movement. Over the last few days, the security forces have been intimidating on a large scale human rights defenders through acts of surveillance in relation with their supposed participation in the protest movement. These acts targeted also members of the organisation who were out of the country at the time of the protest. These practices have generated a climate of fear among civil society leading several human rights defenders to go into hiding.

More generally, the Observatory denounces the current crackdown on peaceful protesters in Zimbabwe, which followed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement that the fuel price would more than double as the country’s economic crisis is deepening. In result, several persons were shot dead (at least twelve as of the publication of this appeal) or wounded, as well as around 450 people arbitrarily detained. The Government also blocked access to the Internet and social media.

The Observatory recalls that, in relation to the same above-mentioned protests, Pastor Evan Mawarire has been detained since January 16, 2019 and faces charges of “subverting a constitutional government”. [1]

The Observatory condemns the acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, his family and other members of ZimRights, as they seem to be aimed only at punishing them for their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately end any act of intimidation and harassment against Mr. Okay Machisa, ZimRights members and all human rights defenders in the country.
Okay Machisa
Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Okay Machisa, his family, all the members of ZimRights, and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

iii. Put an end to all acts of intimidation and harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Okay Machisa, ZimRights’ members and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1 and 12; and
v. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa; Fax: +263 4 708 211 / + @edmnangagwa
Mr. Cain Mathema, Minister of Home Affairs, thesecretary@moha.gov.zw, Phone: +263 2 42 70 36 41/43, Fax: +263 2 42 70 72 31
Mr. Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, mfa@zimfa.gov.zw, Phone: +263 47 94 68 16
Mr. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Phone: +263 2 42 77 46 20/7, Fax: +263 2 42 77 29 99
Mr. Prince Machaya, Attorney-GOkay Machisaeneral, Office of the Attorney; Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47;
Ambassador Mr. Taonga Mushayavanhu, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva; Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44; Email: mission.zimbabwe@ties.itu.int
Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels; Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country. 
Paris-Geneva, January 18, 2019
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See Observatory Urgent Appeal ZIM 001 / 0119 / OBS 006, published on January 18, 2019.

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