The Johannesburg Society of Advocates (JSA) has expressed disapproval over the conduct of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration which has reportedly taken advantage of lockdown regulations to crack down on dissent, arresting opposition activists, lawyers and journalists.
“History is littered with such conduct from apartheid South Africa, the former Yugoslavian Republic and Uganda, to name but three instances,” the JSA said in a statement Wednesday.
“Reports of unlawful arrests of persons as leverage for others in hiding to be given up, of the arrest of opposition political party members, of journalists and other outspoken people and of the arrest, abduction, torture and sexual assault of women in Zimbabwean society are the very hallmarks of gross human rights abuses by governments that do not respect the rule of law.
“The right not to be arrested arbitrarily and without proper cause, the right to the sanctity and security of one’s own home, the rights to dignity and bodily integrity are all complementary to the right of freedom of speech and expression.
“These rights are enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution and international law. They should be respected by all people and upheld by every government.
“It becomes more disturbing when the very people who are supposed to ensure that these rights are respected and upheld themselves become victimised by their government.”
JSA added, “There are disturbing reports of a number of lawyers such as, Patrick Tererai, Lawman Chimiuriwo, Tapiwa Makanza, Choice Damiso, Joshua Chirambwe, Dumisani Dube, Doug Coltart and Advocate Thabani Mpofu, to mention only a few, who have been arrested over the past few months while representing clients seeking to exercise their fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression.
“Such conduct by the government is in breach of the principles of international law and the pronouncements of respected organisations such as the International Bar Association (IBA).”
“The JSA strongly condemns the reported violations and the suppression of Zimbabweans’ fundamental human rights, which should be protected, upheld and fostered by the rule of law in every nation and in every situation.”
The JSA said that it stands in solidarity with the victims of the Mnangagwa regime and salute their courage in pursuing the highest standards and traditions of the legal profession without fear, favour or prejudice.