ZLHR seeks release of refugees arbitrarily detained in prison

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has asked Chief Immigration Officer Respect Gono to cause the release of some refugees, who were rounded up from Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge by some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers together with Department of Immigration officials and arbitrarily detained at Chikurubi Female Prison and at Harare Remand Prison


When the refugees namely Christine Kwizagira, Mirelle Ruvubika, Agnes
Uwizeya and Janine Niyongree and others, who are from the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda were rounded up in August 2021
after some protests at Tongogara Refugee Camps of which they were not
involved in, they together with their children were advised that they
were being taken to a refugee transit centre.

However, they later found themselves detained at Chikurubi Female
Prison and at Harare Remand Prison without their children and without
any explanation as to why they were being held at these two prisons.

In the letter addressed to Gono, ZLHR lawyers, Paidamoyo Saurombe and
Tinashe Chinopfukutwa protested against the unlawful conduct of police
officers and one Department of Immigration official only identified as
Shonhiwa since Kwizagira, Uwizeya, Niyongree and other refugees are
recognised refugees with refugee status which has not been withdrawn
and are entitled to the protection accorded to refugees at law. The
lawyers charged that even in the case of Ruvubika, whose application
for recognition as a refugee is still pending, there is no legal basis
for her detention.

Saurombe and Chinopfukutwa asked Gono to order the release of the
refugees from prison and reunite them with their family members upon
which they should be returned to Tongogara Refugee Camp.

The human rights lawyers said failure by Gono and the Department of
Immigration to comply with their clients’ request would leave them
with no option but to institute legal proceedings to secure the
release of the refugees and also institute legal proceedings for
damages for unlawful detention against the Department of Immigration
and against Shonhiwa in his personal capacity.

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