Battered Lawyer Wins Zim Law Society Award

Harare, November 14, 2014 – Kennedy Masiye, a human rights lawyer who was brutally assaulted by the police recently has been honoured by the Law Society of  Zimbabwe (LSZ) for his outstanding contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Masiye, a senior project lawyer with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) was named as the human rights lawyer of the year 2014 at the LSZ’s Summer School held in Nyanga last week.

Masiye could not attend the award ceremony as he was detained in hospital recovering from acts of police brutality meted on him while in the course of discharging his professional duties and representing the rights of his clients. ZLHR projects lawyer David Hofisi accepted the award on behalf of Masiye.

In honouring Masiye at the LSZ’s summer school which is one of the legal profession’s strongest and solid platforms for networking, interrogating pressing national issues and engaging in much needed social interaction, the lawyers’ regulatory body said the lawyer had demonstrated a desire to work for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

The LSZ’s human rights award, which is sponsored by Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners and targets junior to mid-career lawyers under 35 years of age, is aimed at promoting human rights litigation, advocacy and culture among young lawyers.

The LSZ said the human rights lawyer had excelled in defence of human rights and had demonstrated high ethical and moral standards in the execution of his professional duties.

Masiye has represented and secured acquittals for several human rights defenders in the country including some former farm workers and villagers facing eviction from their living quarters.

At ZLHR, Masiye has actively engaged in extensive litigation to fight impunity, lawlessness and bring accountability to the State and State actors and recently the State owned up to assaulting and torturing Mercedes Nyamande, a truck driver while in police custody in a bid to induce a confession after the human rights lawyer took up the case against the law enforcement agents.

Masiye paid tribute to his colleagues at ZLHR for committing tirelessly to defend human rights and to foster a culture of human rights in the country.

“I am humbled by the award. At least the work that I am doing as a human rights lawyer is being recognised by the legal fraternity. ZLHR has enabled me to explore my potential in the human rights field. The award is an icing on the cake given the work that we have being doing at ZLHR,” said Masiye, who sustained several injuries all over his body and two fractures in one of his arms after he was brutally assaulted by some uniformed members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Thursday 6 November 2014 in Harare whilst attempting to represent his clients, Itai Dzamara and other protesters, who were themselves being subjected to assault by the same police officers whilst staging a peaceful sit-in.

Apart from Masiye, ZLHR’s project lawyers among them Lizwe Jamela and Jeremiah Bamu, Tafadzwa Mugabe and Irene Petras have previously scooped the human rights lawyer of the year award.