Two years ago today, Zimbabwe’s lawyers took to the streets and petitioned the government complaining over what they called deteriorating rule of law.
The lawyers presented a petition to the country’s chief justice, Luke Malaba’s office. One of the lawyers is Fadzayi Mahere.
“The lawyers are marching in support of human rights and restoration of constitutional freedoms. And we do not want the military on the streets or in civilian life. Or in the courts. It is a march in support of fair trial,” said Mahere.
Among the lawyers’ complaints is the courts’ refusal to grant bail to more than 1,000 civilians arrested during this month’s protests over a fuel hike. They said courts are “fast tracking” trials of the protesters before they get all materials they want to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, remembering the day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Executive Director Roselyn Hanzi, says lawyers are the last line of defense and have a duty to speak out against injustices.
“UN Basic Principles on Role of Lawyers states: Lawyers, in protecting the rights of clients & in promoting the cause of justice, shall seek to uphold human rights & fundamental freedoms in national & international law…,” she said.
Apparently, lawyers, especially those representing political prisoners have been mistreated at the hands of the police or prison officers.
At times they are denied access to their clients would be in detention.
However, the then, Zimbabwe police spokesperson Charity Charamba is on record denying charges of widespread abuse.
At one time she said: “The law is clear, for each and every offense, there should be redress or a penalty, hence our passionate appeal to members of the public to report.
“Reports in some sections of the media that those who have reported are being bullied and labeled are not correct.
“Only one case of alleged sexual abuse was recorded. Investigations are already in progress. It is not in the culture of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to sweep cases under the carpet … ”