ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) strongly condemns the disgraceful and shocking conduct of some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members, who ambushed and severely assaulted human rights lawyer Kudzayi Kadzere while he was discharging his professional duties on Saturday 14 January 2023.
Kadzere, a member of ZLHR, was assaulted by several ZRP members in Harare’s Budiriro high-density suburb after he had attended to offer legal support to 25 leaders and members of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change political party, who had been arrested.
He was waylaid and bundled into a ZRP truck, where he was assaulted by police officers, who used truncheons and fists in bludgeoning him. He sustained injuries including a fractured hand and was left wearing a plaster cast.
On Sunday 15 January 2023, when he was in the process of making a police report for assault at Harare Central Police Station, Kadzere, who was accompanied by his lawyer Nontokozo Dube-Tachiona of ZLHR, was arrested and charged with criminal nuisance and escaping from lawful custody. ZRP officers alleged that Kadzere escaped from lawful custody on Saturday 14 January 2023.
His lawyers managed to secure his release from police custody on Sunday 15 January 2023 to allow him to be attended to by medical doctors and he is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday 19 January 2023 answering to charges of criminal nuisance and escaping from lawful custody.
ZLHR is alarmed by the assault of Kadzere while executing his professional duties of representing his clients, who had been arrested in Budiriro high-density suburb and strongly condemns the brutal actions of the police.
The physical assault of a lawyer while carrying out his professional duties is a clear sign of ZRP’s outright disregard for constitutional protections and regional and international human rights standards, which oblige all state actors to ensure that lawyers are able to carry out their duties without fear or favour and enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as other people of Zimbabwe.
The barbaric assault of Kadzere is in violation of section 219 of the Constitution, which mandates the police service to protect and secure the lives of people and also violates section 208 of the Constitution, which prohibit police officers from violating the fundamental rights or freedoms of people.
The callous actions by ZRP also contravenes Zimbabwe’s obligations contained in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers that unequivocally state that lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers require Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that lawyers discharge their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or interference; and are not subjected to or threatened with prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for performing their professional duties.
The physical assault on Kadzere indicates a deliberate and coordinated effort by Zimbabwean authorities to impede legal practitioners from undertaking their professional duties – at a time when the rule of law is under unprecedented assault.
For the rule of law to exist and to allow legal practitioners to be able to fulfil their role in defending the rights and freedoms of citizens, without fear of persecution or attack, ZLHR calls upon government to:
- Guarantee Kadzere’s safety and physical integrity and to ensure that legal practitioners are able to carry out their work free of fear, harassment or intimidation and to adequately protect the safety and independence of all lawyers and end the culture of impunity;
- Take immediate, meaningful steps to enable lawyers to carry out their professional duties safely and independently, and protect them against intimidation, threats and reprisals;
- Promptly and thoroughly investigate the assault of Kadzere with the aim of identifying those responsible and holding perpetrators accountable in order to serve justice and to prevent re-occurrence of violations;
- Fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession, amongst others by bringing the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to the attention of ZRP and other relevant stakeholders;
- Expedite the establishment of the Independent Complaints Mechanism as provided in section 210 of the Constitution, with the mandate of receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct of the police.
- Allow legal practitioners to carry out their professional duties without interference and not to identify them with their clients’ causes.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
FOLLOW US:@ZLHRLAWYERS ON TWITTER | ZIMBABWE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS