Lawyers protest, petition Kazembe, Matanga over police brutality

ZIMBABWEAN lawyers on Friday 29 November 2019 marched during a
demonstration to protest against harassment and assault of legal
practitioners and ordinary citizens.

Dozens of placard waving lawyers gathered outside the High Court in
Harare and marched to Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe’s office
and to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin
Matanga’s office in Harare, where they delivered copies of a petition
protesting against harassment and assault of ordinary citizens
including lawyers by some ZRP officers while executing their
professional duties.

In the petition handed over to Aaron Nhepera, the Home Affairs
Permanent Secretary and to ZRP spokesperson Assistant Commissioner
Paul Nyathi by representatives of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
and Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe, the lawyers protested
against the disregard for the law and some constitutional provisions
demonstrated by some ZRP officers during the course of the year and
more importantly in the past two months.

The legal practitioners cited the heavy-handed approach of some law
enforcement agents in October and in November, which resulted in the
death in custody of a vendor Hilton Tamangani, the assault of members
of the public including women and elderly citizens, the unlawful
detention of minors, the assault of journalists, arbitrary arrests of
ordinary citizens, the denial of access of legal practitioners to
their clients by some ZRP officers and the assault of Douglas Coltart
a human rights lawyer in the course of him carrying out his duties at
Harare Central Police Station.

The violations of people’s rights by some ZRP officers, the lawyers
said, will discredit ZRP in the eyes of citizens as well as in the
region and internationally.

The lawyers called upon ZRP officers to operate within the
requirements of the Constitution and to stop the use of
disproportionate force, arbitrary arrests and torture of citizens.

ZRP, the lawyers said, should launch an inquiry into all assaults of
members of the public at the hands of some law enforcement agents with
the aim of identifying perpetrators and holding them accountable in
order to serve justice and prevent recurrence of violations.

The legal practitioners urged government to expedite establishment of
an Independent Complaints Mechanism as provided in section 210 of the
Constitution, which will be mandated with receiving and investigating
complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of
members of the security services, who include the Police Service and
for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.

ZRP officers, the lawyers said, should be trained on their duties in
terms of the Constitution especially the requirement for them not to
act in a partisan manner, not to further the interests of any
political party or cause, not to prejudice the lawful interests of any
political party or cause or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms
of any person.

The legal practitioners said ZRP officers should fully comply with the
core values underlying the legal profession and the duties of the
police and should be educated on the United Nations basic Principles
on the Role of Lawyers.