Civicus bemoans rights abuses

International human rights group, Civicus, has called on the government to immediately drop all charges against the remaining activists who were arrested and charged with treason earlier this year.

In a statement to The Zimbabwean, officials said the Harare Magistrates’ Court had failed to prove it had any case against the six activists.

Initially, the activists, who were arrested in Harare on February 19 for allegedly watching videos of pro-democracy rallies in Egypt and Tunisia, were supposed to stand trial for treason last Monday, but the case was rescheduled for a later date after the charge was changed to conspiring to commit public violence.

Following the postponement of their trial, the six activists, Eddson Chakuma, Antonater Choto, Hopewell Cumbo, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Welcome Zimuto, were released under strict bail conditions.

Civicus has demanded that the flimsy charges be dropped and the passports of the remaining three activists be returned immediately.

Netsanet Belay, Director of Policy and Research at Civicus, criticized the inconsistency of the charges as a violation of human rights.

“The subjection of the activists to protracted, inconsistent and unclear legal processes constitutes a flagrant violation of their basic rights as citizens of Zimbabwe," said Belay.

Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a coalition of local democracy and human rights groups, told The Zimbabwean:

“The spurious charges levelled against the six activists are a gross form of abuse; it is persecution through prosecution which must cease forthwith.”

He concurred that the activists must be immediately and unconditionally released and charges against them withdrawn.

Over the last several months, Civicus and other civil society organizations and human rights bodies in Zimbabwe have reported on the deteriorating situation and breakdown in the rule of law, the repeated attempts by the government to use the courts to intimidate and harass citizens and the systematic abuse and torture of those in detention.

Post published in: Politics

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