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Zimbabwe
22.07.20
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary arrest of anti-corruption activists Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume

ZWE 002 / 0720 / OBS 084

Arbitrary arrest

Zimbabwe

July 22, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono (alias Daddy Hope), a freelance investigative journalist and filmmaker, and Mr. Jacob Ngarivhume, the President of Transform Zimbabwe, an opposition political party. Both men have been active in defending democracy, exposing State corruption and demanding transparency and accountability in the administration of public funds. Mr. Chin’ono recently exposed alleged corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies[1], and Mr. Ngarivhume is the convener of the planned civil society’s July 31, 2020 demonstration against corruption and for the President Emmerson Mnangagwa to step down.

According to the information received, on July 22, 2020, Messrs. Chin’ono and Ngarivhume appeared respectively before Court 14 and Court 11 of the Rottenrow Magistrates Court, which postponed their bail hearings to July 23. Both remain detained at Harare Remand Prison.

In the morning of July 20, 2020, police officers arrested Mr. Jacob Ngarivhume at his house in Harare before conducting him to Harare Central Police Station.

At the same time, eight armed State security agents broke the glass front door of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono’s house in Chisipite, Harare, and took him to the Law and Order section of Harare Central Police Station. At the time of the arrest, the State agents did not produce any arrest warrant and refused to produce identification documents to Mr. Chin’ono.

Both men were denied access to their lawyer and were not informed promptly of the charges they were facing, in violation of their right to due process. The Minister of Information and Publicity of Zimbabwe confirmed[2] later that the police arrested them in connection with allegations of contravening Section 187 (1)(a) as read with Section 36 (1)(a) and Section 37 (1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, and charged with “inciting the public to engage in a gathering with intent to commit public violence”, alternatively “incitement to commit public violence”.

On July 21, 2020, police officers searched the house of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono, in his presence, in search for gadgets which they say he used to post three tweets “inciting public violence”. Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa, the lawyer of Mr. Chin’ono had to request for the search warrant various times before the police officer show it to her. She also stopped the police officers from taking cameras, not covered by the warrant. However, in the evening of the same day, a group of armed riot police unlawfully raided Mr. Hopewell’s home and eventually managed to seize his camera.

The Observatory fears that the targeted arbitrary arrests of Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume constitute an attempt to silence any dissident and civil society voices demanding transparency and accountability from the government.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest of Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume as they seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, as their detention is arbitrary and only aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1 and 12; and

v. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

Addresses:

· President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa; Twitter: @edmnangagwa

· Mr. Cain Mathema, Minister of Home Affairs, Email: thesecretary@moha.gov.zw

· Mr. Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Email: mfa@zimfa.gov.zw

· Mr. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Phone: +263 2 42 77 46 20/7, Fax: +263 2 42 77 29 99

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

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

· Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels; Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, July 22, 2020

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

[1] The journalist was detained after reporting allegations involving US$60 million worth of contracts awarded to companies at inflated prices for COVID-19 supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment, by the Ministry of Health.

[2] See : https://twitter.com/MinOfInfoZW/status/1285220113533276162

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