Zim Rights Lawyers Caution Chinamasa, Police Over Detainees

The ZLHR said this was in line with the country’s laws in particular, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

The lawyers’ statement contradicted that of Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa who told the state-owned Herald that that suspects and detainees could be incarcerated in prisons pending an end to the strike by magistrates without being brought to court.

“What is most worrying are reports that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs are proceeding on the dangerous misconception that accused persons can be lodged in remand prisons without the right to be brought before a Magistrate, or Judge, to be placed on remand and apply for bail,” ZLHR told Radio VOP in a statement. “Our laws allow for such accused persons to be taken before any Judge, thus before the High Court of Zimbabwe to argue for their liberty as guaranteed in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper on Thursday that there was an option of taking suspects to facilities such as Chikurubi, to “off load some of them there” while police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told the Financial Gazette that all Gazette that all persons in police custody would be detained until themagistrates’

ZLHR warned the Zimbabwe Prison Service to “refuse to accept detainees for incarceration in remand prisons without a valid warrant for imprisonment issue by either a Magistrate or a Judge”. It said the police and Chinamasa must “desist from misleading the public into believing that detainees can simply be imprisoned without due process of the law.”

Large numbers of people have been over detained in police custody since Monday when magistrates across the country went on strike to demand an improvement in working conditions and an adjustment of their salaries.

The magistrates called off the strike on Thursday after pledges to respond to their grievances.