BHRC calls for Zimbabwe to cease state violence and protect the rights of children amid concern for fair trials and freedom of expression

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BHRC has issued a public statement regarding the current and ongoing situation in Zimbabwe, following a national protest called for by trade union, civic and church leaders.

In its statement, BHRC raises concern over reports of shootings and beatings of civilians and the detention of large numbers of people, including children.

There is also concern for fair trial rights, with evidence that those arrested have been systematically denied bail and are facing immediate trial without an opportunity to prepare a defence.

Reports also indicate that two prominent human rights leaders, Pastor Evan Mawarire, the leader of the #ThisFlag movement,  and Obert Masure, a leader of the Teacher Trade Union Movement have been arrested. BHRC has raised concern for Pastor Mawarire previously when he was arrested in February 2017 for his work with #ThisFlag.

BHRC reminds Zimbabwe of its obligations to fair trial rights, freedom of expression, right to life and prohibition of torture under its own constitution and its international treaty obligations, particularly as it concerns children:

“Under Article 50 [of the Zimbabwe Constitution of 2013], a person must be released from detention whilst awaiting trial unless there are compelling reasons justifying their continued detention….

In addition, Article 81 of the Zimbabwean constitution specifically protects the right of children not to be detained except as a matter of last resort and to their adequate protection by the Courts.”

BHRC calls for:

  • Any state violence towards innocent civilians to cease immediately;
  • All persons detained in the current crackdown to be granted bail, where there is a legal entitlement to bail;
  • All persons detained in the current crackdown to receive a fair trial and adequate opportunity to prepare a defence;
  • Any children detained in the current crackdown to be immediately released;
  • The family members and lawyers of all persons detained in the current crackdown to be informed of their whereabouts and be afforded visiting rights;
  • Immediate investigations into the violence to report on the situation in Zimbabwe.

BHRC Acting Chair, Stephen Cragg QC said:

“The situation in Zimbabwe is very worrying.  It is vital that international and  national human rights norms are maintained, in particular those that relate to a fair trial, the protection of life and limb, and the freedom of expression. The actions of the Zimbabwe government, law enforcement officials and judiciary must be monitored closely over the next days and weeks.”

You can read the full statement of concern here. 

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