Zimbabwe: acquittal of key human rights activist welcomed
‘The Zimbabwean authorities never had a legal leg to stand on when they brought Abel Chikomo to court’ - Aster van Kregten
Today’s acquittal of a key Zimbabwean human rights activist is encouraging, said Amnesty International today, though the organisation said that after three years’ harassment of the activist it shows that the police in Zimbabwe continue to abuse the law to hamper the work of human rights defenders.
Abel Chikomo, Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, was originally brought to court in 2011 on charges of running an “illegal” organisation after it conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb. The judge today found he “had no case to answer”.
Mr Chikomo consistently denied the charges against him. His trial had many false starts and postponements before being revived in the run-up to elections in July of this year.
Amnesty International Africa Deputy Director Aster van Kregten said:
“Today’s ruling confirms what Amnesty International has said all along - the Zimbabwean authorities never had a legal leg to stand on when they brought Abel Chikomo to court.
“Bringing unfounded criminal charges against human rights defenders is one of the tools which have been consistently used to harass and intimidate Zimbabwe’s civil society.
“The Zimbabwean authorities must not let such practices by police tarnish the new government’s pledges to improve their human rights record. They must act urgently to end the malicious use of spurious charges and trials against human rights defenders.”
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