The 83 members arrested on 20 September after a peaceful protest to mark International Peace Day were finally removed off remand in a routine court hearing in Harare Magistrate’s Court this morning. Magistrate Macdonald Ndirowei finally granted the defence’s application for a refusal of further remand.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had applied for a refusal of further remand when the group had appeared in court on 1 December 2010. The magistrate refused this application and further remanded the 83 members to 29 December. He stated if the prosecution did not have their case in order on the 29th the group would be removed off remand. When they duly appeared on the 29th however, the public prosecutor who had been dealing with the case was on leave and the stand-in prosecutor did not have a record of the case. Instead of dismissing the matter, the magistrate further remanded the group out of custody to 3 January 2011.
The group has been charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 46, as read with Section 2(v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Code – ‘criminal nuisance’.
WOZA is very pleased that the 76 women and seven men have finally been removed off remand. We condemn the continuous persecution through prosecution of human rights defenders exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest however.