THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) feels compelled to comment and make a statement on the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) arrests due to the importance of the issues as they relate to aspects of human and people’s rights.
stify>The LSZ is a statutory, autonomous, independent and self-regulating body which governs, regulates and administers the legal profession in Zimbabwe.
Its members are registered legal practitioners.
Some of its duties are;
* To promote the study of the law;
* Making recommendations on legal training;
* Representing the profession and articulating its views on various issues;
* Promotion of justice; and
* Defending human rights, rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
We are therefore qualified to issue this statement.
On July 12, 128 NCA activists were arrested in Harare for allegedly contravening Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 which relates to obstruction of the streets and traffic.
Ms Evidence John collapsed at Harare Police Station due to hunger and uninhabitable conditions of detention and was further denied access to medical treatment, legal representation and food.
In Bulawayo, three NCA activists and two bystanders were arrested and detained in filthy and uninhabitable Bulawayo Central Police Station holding cells.
They had to pay admission fines to buy their freedom.
In Mutate, 10 NCA activists were arrested for contravening Section 37 of the said Act which criminalises a demonstration that poses a realised risk to public order.
The LSZ notes with concern the persistent violation of human and people’s rights by arresting and denying detainees their inalienable right to food, medical treatment, legal representation and placing same into degrading, inhuman and uninhabitable holding cells; the sum total of which is torture.
We condemn such self-serving legislation which derogates from people’s rights to freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration.
The government should improve the conditions of police holding cells and prisons to meet internationally-accepted standards as a matter of urgency so as to protect and promote people’s rights.
It should be noted that these rights are sovereign and should be respected at all costs.
* This is a statement issued by the Law Society of Zimbabwe following the arrests of NCA activists last eek.