SouthernDefenders Condemn the Barbaric Attack on Human Rights Lawyer Mr. Kudzai Kadzere and Calls on the Authorities in Zimbabwe to Protect all its Citizens
Johannesburg | Harare
The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SouthernDefenders) unequivocally condemns the barbaric attack on human rights lawyer Mr Kudzai Kadzere and calls on the authorities in Zimbabwe to protect all its citizens, respect the Constitution and stop targeting human rights defenders, and social justice actors and pro-democracy activists.
SouthernDefenders is credibly informed that Mr Kadzere was badly assaulted by members of the police force in Budiriro, Harare on January 14, 2023. Mr. Kadzere was providing legal representation to 25 members of the Coalition for Change (CCC) party who had requested legal support. As a result of this atrocious attack, he suffered a fractured hand and is in urgent need of surgery. SouthernDefenders further understand that Mr. Kadzere has since been charged with criminal nuisance and is set to appear in court on January 19, 2023. The 25 members of the CCC have also since been detained at the Harare Remand Prison and have appeared before the court twice. They are due to appear again on January 18, 2023, on bail proceedings.
The Zimbabwean Government is constitutionally bound to uphold the rule of law in a manner that protects its citizens and ensures an enabling environment in which citizens can safely exercise their right to access justice regardless of the nature of the case. The Constitution of Zimbabwe in section 50 guarantees inter alia, any person who has been detained the right to communicate with and be visited by their chosen legal practitioner and to challenge the lawfulness of the detention in a court of law. As such, any form of attack on a citizen or their legal practitioner of choice is a gross violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the victims and a flagrant disregard of the protection obligations imposed on the sitting government.
According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, all legal practitioners must be given the freedom to act freely and diligently to exercise their duties in the public interest and to further the interest of justice. SouthernDefenders seeks to emphasize that lawyers too are entitled to the right to participate in matters affecting the promotion and protection of human rights without fear of suffering professional restrictions, violence or arrest. No person should be restricted from practice within the legal profession on the basis of political or other opinions as was unfortunately demonstrated in this instance.
As a state party to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance(ACEDG), the Zimbabwean government is further obliged to strengthen political pluralism by recognizing the rights and freedoms of opposition political parties in order to promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Discrimination on the basis of political opinion or similar forms of intolerance as demonstrated in this case is therefore a contradiction of the values and principles that it pledged to uphold.
The consistent pattern of targeted violence that continues to mar the political landscape and civic space in Zimbabwe is a particular concern ahead of the 2023 elections set for later this year. SouthernDefenders therefore strongly urges the Zimbabwean Government to uphold its primary responsibility to bring an end to election-related human rights violations which continue to impede the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly of its citizens.
The right to bodily and psychological integrity and freedom from all forms of violence from private and public sources as enshrined in section 52 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is the preserve of every Zimbabwean citizen regardless of their political affiliation. SouthernDefenders therefore strongly urges the Zimbabwean government to hold members of its police service to account for all acts of political violence in a transparent manner. As agents of the people for the people, this is critical to restoring the confidence of the public in the police service.
SouthernDefenders stands in solidarity with all human rights defenders, social justice actors and pro-democracy activists in Zimbabwe and echoes the demands for justice, accountability, and political reforms in the country. SouthernDefenders reminds the authorities in Zimbabwe that it has a great duty to ensure that its citizens live free of fear or attacks and that protecting the rights of the people is a fundamental part of a thriving democracy.
SouthernDefenders strongly urges the Zimbabwean authorities to:
- Refrain from the unlawful and unwarranted attacks that endanger the lives and property of the country’s pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders;
- End the misuse of the country’s security forces and resources to harm the citizens it is meant to protect; and
- End the violent rhetoric and crackdown on civic space, human rights defenders, and pro-democracy activists in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, as well as regional and international human rights instruments to which it has ratified.
For more information please contact:
Meamande, SouthernDefenders Regional Programs Manager: email@example.com