By A Correspondent- The beginning of 2020 saw an increase in the number of arrests of Zimbabwean lawyers, and in the restrictions placed on lawyers in their freedoms to carry out their profession.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and government enforced restrictions, resulted
in an increase in these numbers.
In its report entitled “Attacks on Human Rights Lawyers in Zimbabwe”, which was launched on Tuesday 21 September 2021 by Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
(IBAHRI), lawyers are being barred from representing their clients, have become
subjects of arbitrary arrests and are being attacked for carrying out their profession.
Alec Muchadehama , a human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, describes the situation of lawyers under the lockdown as follows:
“ W]e had insurmountable difficulties moving to police stations and the Courts. We would be frisked at the check points.
We would not be allowed to pass despite identifying ourselves as lawyers. Whilst we were prevented from reaching our clients, they were being over detained and being held incommunicado.
The case of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova makes sad reading. They were kidnapped by suspected State security agents.
On 5 May 2020 they temporarily disappeared and were discovered 36 hours later, severely tortured. They are now facing allegations of breaking the COVID-19 regulations and spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the State.”
The report also provides some recommendations on allowing lawyers to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.