Zimbabwe: Acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa and Pastor Evan Magwarire | Letter

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Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Photo Credit: ICJ

31 January 2019

The Honourable Emmerson Mnangagwa
President of The Republic of Zimbabwe
Munhumutapa Building
Corner Samora Machel Ave & Sam Nujoma St.
Harare, Zimbabwe
Email: info@opc.gov.zw

The Honourable Cain Mathema
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage
11th Floor, Mukwati Building
Corner Fourth St. & Livingstone Ave.
Harare, Zimbabwe
Email: thesecretary@moha.gov.zw

The Honourable Sibusiso Moyo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 4240 Munhumutapa Building
Corner Samora Machel Ave & Sam Nujuma St.
Harare, Zimbabwe
Email: mfa@zimfa.gov.zw

The Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
P. Bag 7751, Causeway
Harare, Zimbabwe
Email: justice@justice.gov.zw

Dear President Mnangagwa and Ministers Mathema, Moyo and Ziyambi,

RE: Acts of intimidation against Mr. OKAY MACHISA, Ms. BEATRICE MTETWA and Pastor EVAN MAGWARIRE

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders, that promotes compliance with international human rights, the integrity of legal systems and the rule of law through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC objects to Zimbabwe’s failure to respect and protect its citizens’ rights as exemplified by the increasing number of citizens who have been arrested and are facing prosecution for participating in peaceful protests. Also of concern are the numbers of lawyers and human rights defenders who have been threatened, arbitrarily detained and arrested in apparent retaliation for exercising their constitutional rights.

The right to freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and is guaranteed in section 58 of Zimbabwe’s constitution. Furthermore, section 67 guarantees every citizen the right to political participation to engage in peaceful activities to influence, challenge or support the policies of the government. LRWC encourages you to respect these same rights as a signatory to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recent incidents include the acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) along with his family, and many other ZimRights lawyers. Also of concern is the recent arbitrary arrest and detention of Pastor Evan Magwarire on 16 January 2019, who is facing charges of “subverting a constitutional government” and is scheduled for a bail hearing on 29 January 2019. LRWC is also gravely concerned by the recently revealed attempted deportation of Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent human rights lawyer, to her country of birth Swaziland during the 2013 harmonized election campaign, reports of rapes of women by Zimbawean security forces, the arrests and arbitrary detention of many Zimbabwe citizens and children as young as eleven years old, and the surveillance and intimidation of human rights defenders both within and outside Zimbabwe on their alleged involvement in the protest.

LRWC asks the Zimbabwean government to cease and to condemn these human rights violations. Many of these citizens are believed to have been targeted for their role in a nation-wide popular protest movement. Regardless of their political opinions, the government has a duty to refrain and protect its citizens from such acts. This blatant intolerance of different political views is contrary to the Zimbabwe constitution and international legal obligations.

LRWC demands that the Zimbabwe government immediately:

  • drop all charges against lawyers, human rights defenders and citizens arrested for peacefully exercising their right to protest;
  • Guarantee in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Okay Machisa, his family, all the members of ZimRights members and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
  • Guarantee the release of Pastor Evan Magwarire and ensure his physical and psychological safety;
  • Put an end to all acts of intimidation and harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Okay Machisa, Pastor Evan Magwarire, ZimRights’ members and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
  • Ensure that those who undertake to raise their concerns through a protest and peaceful assembly are not arbitrarily arrested, detained and/or prosecuted;
  • Ensure the protection from abduction and torture of all peoples in Zimbabwe, and
  • Ensure that those responsible for such heinous acts are promptly and thoroughly investigated and held accountable for their conduct;
  • 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
  • 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.

LRWC will continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe to help ensure that the government respects the rights of all peoples in Zimbabwe, as provided for in its Constitution and its international legal obligations.

Yours truly,
Amy Reier, Zimbabwe Monitor for LRWC

Copied to:

Ambassador Taonga Mushayavanhu
Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations at Geneva
Email: mission/zimbabwe@ties.itu.int

Embassy of Zimbabwe to Brussels
Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Ambassador René Cremonese
Embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe
Email: harare@international.gc.ca

Embassy of Zimbabwe to Canada
Email: zimottawa@zimfa.gov.zw

Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Email: SRindependenceJL@ohchr.org

Mr. Michel Forst
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Email: defenders@ohchr.org

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule
Email: freeassembly@ohchr.org