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OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS REARRESTED; ONE CHARGED

Opposition activists rearrested; one charged

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Joana Mamombe, an MDC Alliance legislator for Harare West, Cecilia Chimbiri, the MDC Youth National Vice Chairperson and Netsai Marova, Youth Deputy Organising Secretary, were arrested on 13 May 2020 for leading an anti-government protest taking place that day over the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak and hunger in the country. They were arrested at a police roadblock manned by police and soldiers near Warren Park, along Bulawayo Road in Harare. They were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were asked to get into another vehicle under the pretext that they were being taken to Warren Park Police Station. According to the activists, they were hooded and driven to an unknown place where they were beaten on the soles of their feet, sexually assaulted and forced to eat human excreta. On 14 May, the national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed their arrest, though he was not aware of where they were being held. But on the same day, the police denied the activists were in their custody, through their official Twitter account.

In the early hours of 15 May, the three activists were found dumped in the town of Bindura, 87 km from Harare, with their clothes torn and brutally assaulted. They were hospitalised. Whilst in hospital the authorities charged them for breaching Section 37 of Criminal Code, that is gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace, which provides for imprisonment up to five years or a fine or both and Section 5(3) and (1) of Statutory Instrument 99/20 that prohibits gatherings, which provides for one-year imprisonment or a fine or both. Through a special court hearing conducted in hospital, the three were granted bail of ZWD$1 000.

On 10 June, the three activists were arrested whilst at their lawyers’ offices. They were accused of lying about their torture and charged with Section 31 (a)(1)(iii) of the Criminal Law Act- which is communicating or publishing false statement prejudicial to the state, as well as section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law Act which is defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f). They were denied bail on 15 June and remanded in custody until 26 June. Whilst in custody they were denied access to food from their relatives. Their lawyers appealed to the High Court. On 26 June, the High Court granted them bail under onerous conditions including bail of ZWD $10,000.00 (around USD $177 at the Government Interbank Rate), reporting 3 times a week to the police and barring them from communicating about their matter directly or otherwise with any of the public and or private media, including social media. 

On the day of their arrest, on 10 June, nine UN Special Rapporteurs called for an end to abductions and torture and for their charges to be immediately dropped. Some government officials including the Minister of Justice, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting have dismissed their disappearance and claimed that it had been ‘stage managed’ by the opposition. After their abduction, the Minister of Justice came out calling for their arrest in May. The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage gave a statement poking loopholes in their story and accusing them of seeking Western sympathy before instituting an investigation. He also accused the doctors who examined them of being anti- government. 

On 13 August, a Harare magistrate erroneously issued an arrest warrant for Joana Mamombe following claims that she had failed to turn up for court. The warrant of arrest was cancelled after the state realised, thanks to an intervention by her lawyer, that Joana Mamombe was not supposed to appear in court on the day in question.
 

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Southern Africa: Region's leaders must address human rights violations

© SADC

COVID-19 still devastating the region, exposing stark inequalities and threatening vulnerable communities Amnesty calls for debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries for at least two years in response to the pandemic Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders must urgently take measures to fix the human rights crisis in the region when they meet at their annual summit next week, Amnesty International said today. COVID-19 is still devastating the region, exposing stark inequalities and particularly threatening vulnerable communities, while crackdowns on peaceful dissent in

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TORTURED ACTIVISTS RELEASED ON BAIL

Tortured activists released on bail

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Joanna Mamombe, an MDC Alliance legislator for Harare West, Cecilia Chimbiri, the MDC Youth National Vice Chairperson and Netsai Marova, Youth Deputy Organising Secretary, were arrested on 13 May for leading an anti-government protest taking place that day over the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak and hunger in the country. They were arrested at a police roadblock, manned by police and soldiers near Warren Park, along Bulawayo Road in Harare. They were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were asked to get into another vehicle under the pretext that they were being taken to Warren Park Police Station. According to the activists, their heads were covered in sacks/hoods and they were driven to an unknown place where they were beaten on the soles of their feet, sexually assaulted and forced to eat human excreta. On 14 May, the national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed their arrest, though he was not aware of where they were being held. But on the same day, the police denied the activists were in their custody, through their official Twitter handle.

The three activists were later found in the early hours of Friday 15 May, dumped in Bindura, 87 km from Harare, with their clothes torn and brutally assaulted. They were hospitalised. Whilst in hospital the authorities charged them for breaching Section 37 of Criminal Code, that is gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace, which provides for imprisonment up to five years or a fine or both and Section 5(3) and (1) of Statutory Instrument 99/20 that prohibits gatherings, which provides for one-year imprisonment or a fine or both. Through a special court conducted in hospital and the three were granted bail of ZWD$1 000.

On 10 June the three activists were arrested whilst they were at their lawyers’ offices. They were accused of lying about their torture  and charged with Section 31 (a)(1)(iii) of the Criminal Law Act which is communicating or publishing false statement prejudicial to the state as well section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law Act which is defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f). They were denied bail on 15 June and remanded in custody until 26 June. Whilst in custody they were denied access to food from their relatives. Their lawyers appealed to the High Court. Eventually the High Court granted them bail on 26 June under onerous conditions including bail of ZWD$10,000.00, reporting 3 times a week to the police and barring them from communicating about their matter directly or otherwise with any of the public and or private media, including social media.
 
On the day of their arrest, on 10 June, the nine UN Special Rapporteurs, called for an end to abductions and torture and called for their charges to be immediately dropped. Some government officials including the Minister of Justice, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting have dismissed their disappearance and claimed that it had been ‘stage managed’ by the opposition. The Minister of Justice has come out calling for their arrest. The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage gave a statement poking loopholes in their story and accusing them of seeking Western sympathy before instituting an investigation. He also accused the doctors who examined them of being anti- government.  
 

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Zimbabwe: persecution of tortured female opposition leaders continues as they are denied bail

Joana Mamombe Cecilia Chinembiri and Netsai Marova charged with falsifying their abduction and torture ‘The Zimbabwean authorities must end this travesty’ - Muleya Mwananyanda In response to today’s court decision to deny bail for three female leaders from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance (MDC-Alliance) and remand them in police custody, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said: “The continued arbitrary detention of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chinembiri and Netsai Marova amounts to persecution through prosecution and is designed

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HOSPITALISED ACTIVISTS RISK BEING JAILED

Hospitalised activists risk being jailed

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Joanna Mamombe, an MDC Alliance legislator for Harare West, Cecilia Chimbiri, the MDC(A) Youth National Vice Chairperson and Netsai Marova, Youth Deputy Organising Secretary, were arrested on 13 May for leading an anti-government protest taking place that day over the authorities’ response to the Covid-19 outbreak and hunger in the country. They were arrested at a police roadblock, manned by police and soldiers near Warren Park, along Bulawayo Road in Harare. 

Following their arrest, they were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were asked to get into another vehicle under the pretext that they were being taken to Warren Park Police Station. According to the activists, their heads were covered in sacks/hoods and they were driven to an unknown place where they were beaten on the soles of their feet, sexually assaulted and forced to eat human excreta. The state-owned newspaper, the Herald, reported on 14 May that the three were arrested and national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed their arrest, though he was not aware of where they were being held. On the same day, the police denied that the activists were in their custody, through their official Twitter handle.

The three activists were then found in the early hours of Friday 15 May, dumped in Bindura, 87 km from Harare, with their clothes torn and badly assaulted. They have since been in hospital. Some government officials including the Minister of Justice, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting have dismissed their disappearance and claimed that it had been ‘stage managed’ by the opposition. The Minister of Justice has come out calling for their arrest. 

On 26 May, police charged the three activists with breaching Section 37 of Criminal Code, that is gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace in violation which provides for imprisonment up to five years or a fine or both and Section 5(3) and (1) of Statutory Instrument 99/20 that prohibits gatherings which provides for one year imprisonment or a fine or both. The Magistrate conducted a special court in hospital and the three were granted bail of ZWD$1 000 and are required to report once a week at Harare Central Police Station and to continue residing at their given residential addresses and not to interfere with state witnesses until their matter is finalised. Since the hearing on 27 May, nine prison guards and four police officers have been deployed to their ward. 

On June 4, The Minister of Home Affairs, released a statement accusing the three women of faking an abduction and accuses them of seeking benefits like scholarship in America.  Authorities have also attacked Civil Society organisations that helped the women received medical attention including the two doctors who examined them

Zimbabwe is currently under lockdown due to COVID-19. The government has failed to adequately provide social protection, leaving more people in poverty and hunger. The World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for international support to prevent millions of desperate Zimbabweans plunging deeper into hunger. The WFP estimates that the total number of food insecure people is 7.7million people in Zimbabwe which is more than half the population. The COVID-19 crisis has left many desperate and unable to put food on the table. 

The demonstration led by Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, took place amid rising political tensions in the country over a Supreme Court Judgement that has left the main opposition party in a leadership wrangle – the judgment dismissed the opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, and asked the opposition to reelect new leadership, which has been seen as an attempt to impose leadership on the opposition party. There are allegations of political interference with the judiciary and that the ruling party, ZANU PF, was behind the judgement. MDC Alliance members of parliament have vowed to disengage with Parliament as a protest over the meddling of ZANU PF with the internal affairs of the opposition party. 
 

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Zimbabwe: Drop bogus charges against opposition leaders who suffered sexual assault

In response to the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s decision to charge three female opposition MDC-Alliance party youth leaders for participating in peaceful protests against hunger during the lockdown period last month, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa said: “Joana Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova are victims of police brutality, sexual assault and enforced disappearance. Before charging them for allegedly breaking the lockdown rules, authorities must investigate the crimes against them. “The charges against these three women are a travesty

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Zimbabwe: Authorities must account for disappearance of three opposition leaders after COVID-19 protest

Three leaders from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance (MDC-Alliance) have been missing since yesterday The women were part of a demonstration organised against the state’s failure to provide social protection for the poor during the current COVID-19 lockdown ‘The disappearance of these political activists amounts to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law’ - Muleya Mwananyanda Authorities in Zimbabwe must urgently account for three missing female leaders from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance (MDC-Alliance) and ensure their safe

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Cyclone Idai: Tens of thousands of people still homeless one year on

Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique still affected by one of the southern hemisphere’s worst ever natural disasters
© Wilker Dias

Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique still affected by one of the southern hemisphere’s worst ever natural disasters Government rebuilding efforts across the three countries remains slow ‘Many of the people affected are experiencing the worst face of the climate crisis. They are barely surviving’ - Tigere Chagutah One year after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and tens of thousands of people are still trapped in appalling conditions with inadequate shelter or sanitation, Amnesty International said today. Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique between 14

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Zimbabwe: cruel denial of travel for medical treatment puts medical union leader's health at risk

In response to the authorities’ failure to allow Dr. Peter Magombeyi to travel to seek medical attention following his abduction and the deterioration of his health, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said: “Not allowing Dr. Magombeyi to travel to seek medical treatment outside Zimbabwe is a cruel denial that puts his health at risk. “That anyone can be treated this way by the state is unbelievable – and is made worse by the fact that he’s already faced a terrible ordeal and abduction. This ill-treatment at the hands of the authorities is

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Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe was a 'liberator turned oppressor'

Robert Mugabe went from POC to politician, but also oversaw decades of political repression © Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Mugabe was adopted as ‘prisoner of conscience’ by Amnesty after being jailed during resistance years ‘Mugabe leaves behind permanent scars of his brutal rule’ - Muleya Mwananyanda Robert Mugabe, the former leader of Zimbabwe who has died aged 95, was a liberator turned oppressor, said Amnesty International today. During his 37 years in power from 1980 to 2017, Mugabe presided over the brutal repression of political opponents and established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, while his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences. Though

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