Lawyers urge Mbeki to restore law in Zim (26-06-07)

By Chief Reporter

ACCRA – All Bar Associations in Africa are expected to table a proposal at the 9th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union heads of State and government meeting here next Sunday urging South African President Thabo Mbeki to have the restoration of the ru

le of law in Zimbabwe put high on his mediation efforts.
The SADC lawyers Association and the East African Bar Association dispatched a high-powered delegation for the AU summit which opened here Monday to table the proposal, which was adopted at their annual general meeting held in Dar es Salaam last week.
The Bar Associations expressed concern at the continued systematic undermining of the judiciary and the rule of law by President Mugabe’s government. The lawyers said they were particularly shocked at the unrelenting and escalating verbal and physical attacks on human rights defenders and in particular members of the legal profession including lawyers in both private and public practice in Zimbabwe.
The lawyers said they welcomed the appointment of President Mbeki as mediator mandated to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. They however expressed concern at the “slow pace” at which the mediation process is being undertaken.
“The SADC Lawyers Association Executive Committee is hereby mandated to work together with the Law Society of Zimbabwe to approach the SADC Heads of states, SADC organs and President Thabo Mbeki to encourage them to place the return to the rule of law at the top of the agenda in the mediation process to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis,” said a resolution seen by The Zimbabwean here Tuesday.
The lawyers said they would soon dispatch a joint fact finding mission to Zimbabwe to probe the worsening human rights situation in the crisis-torn country.
The move is part of many events organized by civil society organizations here as part of pre-summit events. Civic society on Monday and Tuesday held a conference centering on strengthening of freedom of expression in Africa where worsening media violations in Zimbabwe were roundly condemned by media practitioners that gathered here from several African countries.
Today, there would be a Day of Solidarity with Zimbabwe with testimonies and presentations from civic society across the continent. There will also be solidarity messages and a visual exposition on the worsening rights abuses in the crisis-torn Southern African country. The highlight of the public hearing on Zimbabwe will be a solidarity act by the legendary SA musician Hugh Masekela.

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