Acquittal of Mr. Farai Maguwu - ZWE 004 / 0610 / OBS 079.3

28/10/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), about the acquittal of Mr. Farai Maguwu, Director of the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), who had been arbitrarily arrested and charged on June 3, 2010.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), about the acquittal of Mr. Farai Maguwu, Director of the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) [1], who had been arbitrarily arrested and charged on June 3, 2010.

According to the information received, on October 21, 2010, the Magistrate withdrew charges after the State presented a document from the attorney’s general office giving instructions to drop the case.

The Observatory welcomes Mr. Farai Maguwu’s acquittal and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in his favour. However, the Observatory remains concerned by the recurrent use of judicial harassment against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, which merely aims at sanctioning their human rights activities and, calls upon the Zimbabwean authorities to put an immediate end to this practice. Additionally, the Observatory urges the Zimbabwean authorities to inquire into the arbitrary arrest and detention and the denial of medication suffered by Mr. Maguwu and provide him adequate compensation for all related damage.

Background information:

Mr. Farai Maguwu was arrested on June 3, 2010 in Mutare and accused of “communicating and publishing falsehoods against the State with the intention to cause prejudice to the security or economic interests of the country” (Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act), liable to 20 years’ imprisonment. He appeared in court on June 7, 2010 and then on June 10, 2010, when the Harare Lower Court denied him bail for the first time.

Mr. Maguwu was accused of having handed over a CRD report on human rights violations that are taking place in the diamond-mining area of Chiadzwa to the Kimberley Process Monitor during his visit to Zimbabwe in May 2010[1], which he denies. The report includes cases of unlawful arrests and detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions allegedly perpetrated by the police, the army and security agents, in connection with diamond mining, whether legal or not. The CRD has played a central role in recording human rights abuses carried out by state security agents against local people in the Marange diamond fields, and has frequently made this information available to Kimberley Process participant governments and working groups. However, Kimberley Process participant countries have so far failed to reach consensus on suspending Zimbabwe from membership.

While in detention, Mr. Farai Maguwu has been denied access to the medication he was taking to cure a sore throat, chest infections and a fever he was suffering from. On June 11, 2010, without notifying his legal representatives or relatives, the Law and Order section of the police transferred Mr. Farai Maguwu from Harare remand prison to Matapi police station. He was returned to the Harare remand prison on the evening of June 13, 2010. When he asked for his medication, prison authorities stated that it was too late to resume the course and offered him substitute medication, which he declined out of suspicion.

On June 16, 2010, Mr. Maguwu’s lawyer reported the facts to High Court Judge Justice Mr. Chinembiri Bhunu, who ordered Mr. Maguwu to be examined fortnightly by a medical practitioner of his own choice. On June 17, 2010, he was admitted at Avenues Clinic, where he underwent a throat surgery on June 18, 2010. On the same day, one of his guards, known as “Murigani”, put him into leg irons and chains as he was laying on his bed.

On June 21, 2010, the High Court of Justice dismissed an application filed by Mr. Farai Maguwu seeking his release on bail. He was removed from the hospital where he was recovering from a throat surgery and sent back to prison in spite of his dire state.

On July 2, 2010, a Harare Magistrate denied Mr. Farai Maguwu bail, who was again remanded in custody until July 14 in order to allow the State time for further investigations.

On July 1, 2010, a police inspector admitted before the court that the investigations were moving at a slow pace and that he had failed to interview a key State witness in the case against Mr. Maguwu.

On July 12, 2010, the Harare High Court Judge Mawadze Gurainesu released Mr. Farai Maguwu on bail, despite the State’s argument that his release would compromise the results of the ongoing investigation. Instead, Judge Gurainesu agreed with Mr. Maguwu’s lawyer that the State was taking too long to investigate and therefore it would not be lawful to keep him in remand for allegations that were yet to be proven.

Mr. Farai Maguwu was granted bail on conditions of the payment of a 1,500 USD bail deposit, daily reporting to Mutare central police station, that he resides in his home in Mutare and that he does not travel more than 40 km from Mutare, except for the purpose of court hearing in Harare.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Farai Maguwu as well as all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned facts, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, prosecute and try them before a competent and impartial tribunal;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998 and notably:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 6, which provides, that everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems; as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

- and its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

Addresses:

· President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President, Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211 / + 263.4.70.38.58

· Mr. Khembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716

· Mr. Giles Mutsekwa, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716

· Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: + 263 4 77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155

· Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General of Police, Police Headquarters, P.O. Box 8807, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084

· Mr. Justice Johannes Tomana, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO Box 7714, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47

· Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19

· Ambassador Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email: mission.zimbabwe@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, 11 SQ Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, October 28, 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

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