Zimbabwe: Physical assault and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura

Urgent Appeal

ZWE 001 / 0420 / OBS 047
Arbitrary arrest /
Judicial harassment /
Physical assault
May 5, 2020

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the physical assault and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura, Executive Director of the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), a youth oriented registered non-governmental organisation that addresses conflict transformation, social accountability, participation in electoral processes and civic education.

According to the information received, on April 24, 2020, Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura was arrested in Masvingo for allegedly violating the lockdown rules in relation with the Covid-19 crisis, while possessing an approval letter from the police authorising Mr. Mukura to circulate in Masvingo province to distribute masks, gloves, sanitizer and water in solidarity with people in need to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura was violently assaulted by the police officers who pushed and shoved him, grabbed him by the belt while beating him up with sticks. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station where he was detained for about two hours. He was then released after being forced to pay a fine of 200 ZWL. Upon his release, he was suffering from severe injuries on his arm.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first act of harassment committed against Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura. On May 20, 2019, Mr. Mukura was arrested together with three other human rights defenders by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation and police officers from the Law and Order Section at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare after returning from an international capacity building workshop in the Maldives, and his electronic equipment was seized. During his detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura was denied visits, was deprived of food for several days and was subjected to solitary confinement. On June 7, 2019, Mr. Mukura was granted bail. However, he has kept being followed and monitored since his release. He was also questioned by intelligence services about the workshop he attended in the Maldives, including at his home. Moreover, he remains charged for “subversion of a constitutionally elected government» under Section 22 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], in relation to the workshop he attended in the Maldives. Court sessions have been repeatedly postponed by Harare Magistrates Court since June 2019.

The Observatory condemns the physical assault, arbitrary arrest and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura as they seem only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and expresses its concern at recent multiple threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders in Masvingo province.

Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Gamuchirai Mukura and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iii. 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
iv. 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-General, 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. 
Geneva-Paris, May 5, 2020
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 the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH 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 OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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