Activists rot in police custody

behind_barsThe 46 activists, who were arrested at the weekend, continue to be detained at Harare Central Police Station after the police failed to take them to court on Tuesday 22 February 2011.

The police failed to take the detainees to court after formally charging seven of them, who include former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for Highfield Munyaradzi Gwisai and economic and social justice activist Hopewell Gumbo.

The seven activists were charged with contravening section 22 (2) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, that is attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means.

39 of the detainees whom the police had undertaken to release from custody had not yet been released by 18:00 hrs on Tuesday. The detention of the 46 activists is unlawful because the 48-hour period prescribed in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) has now passed.

The police also indicated that they would retain Gwisai, Gumbo and other detainees in police custody for the fourth night without providing any explanation for their action. On Monday 21 February 2011, the police spent the whole day vetting the detainees, leaving Gwisai to undergo the vetting exercise at the end. Lawyers were barred from being present in the room where each detainee was being interviewed.

Submissions had been made to the police from the CID Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police Station to release those detainees who were just innocent bystanders and others who were working in the same building, who had been caught up during the raid on Saturday 19 February 2011 when the detainees were arrested, but this fell on deaf ears.

At least eight of the detainees including International Socialist Organisation (ISO) members, students, and Gwisai were unlawfully removed from the cells in batches on the first two nights of their detention by people who were not from the CID Law and Order Section for interrogation during which they were severely beaten.

The police also denied medical attention for the detainees. Lawyers were still attending at Harare Central Police Station last night.

Post published in: Politics

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