Zimbabwe: arbitrary arrests and violations of the right to peaceful assembly

29/06/2012
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the repression of a peaceful demonstration organised by Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic movement that defends women’s rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe. The lcamp down led to the arrest and subsequent release of 101 of its members, including Ms. Magodonga Mahlangu, one of the leaders of WOZA.

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.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on June 27, 2012 in the morning, 101 members of WOZA were arrested in the centre of Bulawayo, where protests were due to start at 11.00 a.m in ten different locations. All were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station, many of whom handcuffed. Their lawyers were denied access to their clients on three occasions.

The 101 were released without charges between 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. on the same day, in batches of 5 people so as to prevent any mass protests. Ms. Magodonga Mahlangu was the last to be released at 5.30 p.m.

Previously, on June 26, 2012, eight members of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) were also arrested in Bulawayo as they were on their way back from a workshop to commemorate the 2012 United Nations International Day in Respect of Victims of Torture. They were also detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station for an hour, before being released without charges.

On the same day in Karoi, four other members of ZimRights were briefly detained before being released without charges.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the increasing obstacles to freedom of assembly currently taking place in Zimbabwe.

The Observatory refers these cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on freedoms of assembly and association.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Magodonga Mahlangu, of the other WOZA and ZimRights members who were detained, as well as all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Put an end to any kinds of harassment, including at the judicial level, against WOZA and ZimRights members, 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:

1. 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”,

2. its Article 5 (a), which states that “everyone has the

2.right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels (…) to meet or assemble peacefully;

3. 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”;

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, co-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, co-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;

· H.E. Mr. James Manzou, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email: zimbabwemission@bluewin.ch;

· 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.

***

Paris-Geneva, June 29, 2012

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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