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Zimbabwe
05.12.17
Urgent Interventions

Acquittal of Pastor Evan Mawarire

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New information

ZIM 001 / 0217 / OBS 016.2

Acquittal

Zimbabwe

December 5, 2017

The Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH andthe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Zimbabwe.

New information:

The Observatoryhas been informed by reliable sources about the acquittal of Pastor Evan Mawarire, prominentanti-corruption activist who led last year’s #ThisFlag[1]protests which encouraged Zimbabweans via social media to hold protests againstPresident Robert Mugabe, accusing him of corruption and causing the economiccrisis.

According to theinformation received, on November 29, 2017, Harare High Court dropped allpending charges of “subverting a constitutional government” against PastorMawarire. Charges were levelled against him in February 2017, for leadingdemonstrations and demanding an end to corruption and the economic crisis (seebackground information).

The Observatorywelcomes the dismissal of charges against Pastor Mawarire and thanks all thepersons and institutions that intervened on his behalf.

Background information:


In July 2016,Pastor Mawarire was arrested and charged with “inciting public violence”. Thepublic prosecutor then altered the charges to “attempting to overthrow aconstitutional government”. However, the Harare Magistrate Vakai Chikwekweruled that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers had violated his constitutionalrights in arresting and detaining him and that the prosecutor acted inviolation of the Constitution by bringing new charges against Pastor Mawarirewhile in court.

Former PresidentMugabe himself publicly attacked Pastor Mawarire accusing him of being a “greatshame” and a “disgrace” for “allowing himself to demonstrate against thecountry”.

Fearing to befurther harassed and arrested, Pastor Mawarire, left on a self-imposed exile tothe United States for seven months.

Pastor Mawarirereturned to Zimbabwe on February 1, 2017, and was immediately arrested at theairport and charged by the ZRP with “subverting a constitutional government”[2]. The ZRP claims thatthe cleric has been “inciting Zimbabweans from all walks of life either locallyor internationally to revolt and overthrow a constitutionally electedgovernment”. That includes allegations that Pastor Evan Mawarire has incitedsome Zimbabweans living in the US and “all over the world” through social mediato converge in New York on September 22, 2016 to “confront” former PresidentMugabe, who was attending the United Nations General Assembly and order him to“immediately” resign from his position under the accusation of destroying thecountry.

On February 8,2017, the Harare High Court acceded to a bail request and granted a USD 300(280 euros) bail to Pastor Mawarire, after finding the State’s case “weak”,with “no compelling reasons” to maintain him in pre-trial detention. The bailwas accompanied by the obligation to report twice a week (on Mondays andFridays) to the Avondale police station. In addition, Pastor Mawarire had tosurrender his passport to the Clerk of the Harare Magistrates Court and wasurged not to interfere with State witnesses.

Furthermore, theHigh Court found extensive periods of pre-trial detention to be incontradiction with provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution, the InternationalCovenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as with opinions of the UnitedNations Human Rights Committee, and the European Court of Justice.

On September 24,2017, Pastor Mawarire was arbitrarily arrested during a church service inMilton Park and subsequently detained at Harare central police station. PastorMawarire had initially been charged with “subverting a constitutional government”under Section 22 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter9:23.

These chargesstem from a video circulated on social media on September 23, 2017, in whichPastor Mawarire criticised Zimbabwe’s economic policies and urged Zimbabweansto revolt against them[3].

Pastor Mawarirewas taken to the Prosecutor General’s office on September 26, 2017. On the sameday Harare Magistrates Court, ordered his release on the ground that under theConstitution of Zimbabwe, no one can be detained more than 48 hours withoutappearing before a court of law. Charges related to his arrest wereconsequently dropped.

Actions requested:

Please writeto the Zimbabwean authorities asking them to:

i. Conform withthe provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adoptedby the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, inparticular with its Articles 1, 6, 9, and 12.2;

ii. Ensure inall circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

Addresses:

· President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa;Fax: +263 4 708 211 / + 263.4.70.38.58 @edmnangagwa

· Mr. Simbarashe Simbanenduku Mumbengegwi, Acting Minister of ForeignAffairs

· Dr. Augustine Chihuri, CommissionerGeneral, Police Headquarters; Fax: +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084

· Mr. Prince Machaya, Attorney-General,Office of the Attorney; Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47;

· Ms. Chanetsa, Office of the PublicProtector; Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19

· Ambassador Mr. Taonga Mushayavanhu,Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva; Fax: + 41 22 75830 44; Email: mission.zimbabwe@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels; Fax: + 322 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Please also writeto the diplomatic mission or embassy of Zimbabwe in your respective country

***

Paris-Geneva, December 5, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting thecode of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT.The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situationsof repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are bothmembers of ProtectDefenders.eu,the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call theemergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals[at]fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 4355 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] The #ThisFlag movement started after Pastor EvanMawarire posted a video on Facebook in which he appeared with the Zimbabweanflag around his neck and denounced the country’s worsening economic crisis.

[2] See the Observatory PressRelease issued on February 2, 2017.

[3] In his address, Pastor Mawarire said, “What did we doto deserve this suffering nhai? There is no evil that surpasses that ofenriching yourself at the expense of poor defenceless people. The extent ofsuffering in Zimbabwe is heartbreaking and our leaders see nothing wrong withit. God is not a fool and He will bring judgement. We will not stop speakingout and condemning evil and injustice. I’m not going to sit around and just letit happen all over again. Things are getting worse and we are the ones suffering.Please people of Zimbabwe let's save our nation.”

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