Judicial harassment against Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe - ZWE 003 / 1009 / OBS 156

28/10/2009
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release on bail of Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo, Board Chairperson of the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe, NANGO Chief Executive Officer.

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

Brief description of the situation :

According to the information received, on October 24, 2009, Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe were arrested at the airport of Victoria Falls by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Central Organisation after participating in the Annual NGO Directors Summer School[1] in this resort town, allegedly for contravening the Public Order and Security Act by holding a "public and/or political meeting without police clearance".

On October 27, 2009, Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe were remanded out of custody on a US$ 100 bail each, following decision of Victoria Falls Magistrate Richard Ramaboea. Charged with contravening Section 25(1)(b) of the Public Order and Security Act or allegedly failing to notify the regulating authority of an intention to hold a "public political gathering", Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe will appear in court again on November 25, 2009.

The arrest and prosecution of Ms. Chikwengo and Mr. Zinhumwe come up when various news articles and opinion pieces in the State-controlled media attacked and libelled NGOs openly, accusing them of working for the interests of the "West" and of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Ms. Dadirai Chikwengoand and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe, and believes that their arrest and prosecution are directly related to their human rights activities.

The Observatory is concerned that this forms part of an ongoing trend of harassment human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and urges Zimbabwe authorities to put an end to harassment against all human rights defenders, and to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Dadirai Chikwengoand and Mr. Cephus Zinhumwe as well as all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Dadirai Chikwengoand and Mr. Cephus Zinhumweas as well as against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

iii.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially 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", and 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";

iv.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. 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, 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. Boniface Chydiausiku, 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.

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