‘Persecution of tortured female MDC-A leaders designed to send chilling message to activists’

In response to today’s court decision to deny bail for three female leaders from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance (MDC-Alliance) and remand them in police custody, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa said:

“The continued arbitrary detention of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chinembiri and Netsai Marova amounts to persecution through prosecution and is designed to send a chilling message to anyone daring to challenge the Zimbabwean authorities.

“These women are victims of escalating crackdown on the right to freedom of expression and criminalization of dissent. Instead of persecuting them, the Zimbabwean authorities should focus their efforts on holding those suspected to be responsible for their horrifying abduction, torture and sexual assault to account.

“Zimbabwean authorities must end this travesty. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chinembiri and Netsai Marova, and stop their campaign of intimidating and harassing opposition leaders and activists. Authorities must immediately withdraw all the charges against the opposition leaders.”

The three MDC-Alliance youth leaders, Joana Mamombe (MP for Harare West), Cecilia Chinembiri (MDC Alliance Youth Assembly Vice Chair) and Netsai Marova (Deputy Organising Secretary for Youth) were arrested on 10 June 2020 and charged with falsifying their abduction and torture at the hands of suspected state security agents after they were arrested at a roadblock guarded by the police and army at Warren Park.

Their arrest followed their abduction after they led a demonstration organized by MDC-Alliance Youth against the authorities’ failure to provide social protection for the poor during the current COVID-19 lockdown on 13 May.

They have been remanded in prison until 26 June.