Zimbabwe Law Society officials detained and harassed

Sternford MoyoThe ICJ is deeply concerned about the harassment of Sternford Moyo (photo), the President of the Law Society Zimbabwe and Wilbert Mapombere, Executive Secretary of the Law Society.

The two officials were arrested on 3 June on apparently unfounded charges of subversion to the constitutional order, under Section 5 the Public Security and Order Act. They were released from custody on 6 June and subsequently remanded on bail pending a court appearance scheduled for 1 August 2002. At one point during their detention, Mr Moyo and Mr Mapombere were released within the premises of a national park and told that they would be thrown to the lions.

According to the police allegations, the Law Society officials had written letters to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and to the British High Commission with the aim of inciting a rebellion against the government and convincing the MDC to renounce dialogue with the government. The police also allege that they had held a secret meeting with the MDC in early March during which subversive activities were planned. The police have provided to the Court only copies of letters that appear clearly to be fabricated, as they are poorly written and replete with grammatical errors. No credible evidence has been presented to support either allegation.

The Law Society is a highly respected and non-partisan institution, which has criticised the Government only in respect of questions related to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Law Society officials had come under increased attack by the Government attack in the press following the recent publication of the Law Society’s annual report, in which it had raised concerns about attacks on judges and the independence of the judiciary in the country.

The ICJ/CIJL requests that you contact the government of Zimbabwe and urge that the harassment of Law Society officials cease and that the charges against Mr Moyo and Mr Mapombere be dropped. We also ask that you call on the government to respect Article 24 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which provides that professional lawyers’ associations be allowed to exercise their functions without external interference.

Please write to:
Hon. P.A. Chinamasa
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Private Bag 7704

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