Laywers protest, petition Kazembe, Matanga over police brutality

ZIMBABWEAN lawyers on Friday 29 November 2019 marched during a demonstration to protest against harassment and assault of legal practitioners and ordinary citizens.

Kazembe Kazembe


Dozens of placard-waving lawyers gathered outside the High Court in Harare and marched to Home Affairs
Minister Kazembe Kazembe’s office and to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General
Godwin Matanga’s office in Harare, where they delivered copies of a petition protesting against
harassment and assault of ordinary citizens including lawyers by some ZRP officers while executing their
professional duties.

In the petition handed over to Aaron Nhepera, the Home Affairs Permanent Secretary and to ZRP
spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi by representatives of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights and Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe, the lawyers protested against the disregard for
the law and some constitutional provisions demonstrated by some ZRP officers during the course of the
year and more importantly in the past two months.

The legal practitioners cited the heavy-handed approach of some law enforcement agents in October and
in November, which resulted in the death in custody of a vendor Hilton Tamangani, the assault of
members of the public including women and elderly citizens, the unlawful detention of minors, the assault of
journalists, arbitrary arrests of ordinary citizens, the denial of access of legal practitioners to their clients by some ZRP officers and the assault of Douglas Coltart a human rights lawyer in the course of him carrying
out his duties at Harare Central Police Station.

The violations of people’s rights by some ZRP officers, the lawyers said, will discredit ZRP in the eyes of
citizens as well as in the region and internationally.

The lawyers called upon ZRP officers to operate within the requirements of the Constitution and to stop the
use of disproportionate force, arbitrary arrests and torture of citizens.

ZRP, the lawyers said, should launch an inquiry into all assaults of members of the public at the hands of
some law enforcement agents with the aim of identifying perpetrators and holding them accountable in
order to serve justice and prevent recurrence of violations.

The legal practitioners urged the government to expedite the establishment of an Independent Complaints
Mechanism as provided in section 210 of the Constitution, which will be mandated with receiving and
investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the
security services, who include the Police Service and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.
ZRP officers, the lawyers said, should be trained on their duties in terms of the Constitution especially the
requirement for them not to act in a partisan manner, not to further the interests of any political party or
cause, not to prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause or violate the fundamental rights or
freedoms of any person.

The legal practitioners said ZRP officers should fully comply with the core values underlying the legal
profession and the duties of the police and should be educated on the United Nations basic Principles on
the Role of Lawyers

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