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Zimbabwe
16.11.20
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono (alias Daddy Hope)

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information

ZWE 002 / 0720 / OBS 084.3

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

Zimbabwe

November 16, 2020

The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests yourintervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about thearbitrary detention of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono (alias Daddy Hope), a freelanceinvestigative journalist and filmmaker, who is very active indefending democracy, exposing State corruption and demanding transparency andaccountability in the administration of public funds. Recently, Mr. Chin’onoexposed alleged corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies[1].

According to the information received, onNovember 3, 2020, the Harare Law and Order officers arrested Mr. HopewellChin’ono at his home in Harare for allegedly breaking bail conditions inrelation with a tweet he published on October 28, 2020 about the interventionof Zimbabwean Chief Justice Luke Malaba to deny him bail in a previous judicialcase against him (see background information). On November 4, 2020, Mr.Chin’ono has been charged with “defeating or obstructing the course of justice”(Section 184(1)(c) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act) inrelation with another tweet he published on October 26, 2020 saying that,according to a source within the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), the statewould not oppose bail in the gold smuggling case against Henrietta Rushwayo[2].

Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono was supposed to appearbefore the court on November 5, 2020 for his bail hearing, which was postponedto November 6, 2020 and then to November 9, 2020.

On November 12, 2020, Mr. Chin’ono was deniedbail, on the ground that he has a propensity to commit offenses, by amagistrate in Harare and the date of his trial has been set for November 26,2020. Mr Chin'ono’s lawyers disagree with the ground in view of the Presumptionof innocence, a constitutional right, and have indicated that they will appealthis decision before the High Court. In the meantime, Mr. Chin’ono will remaindetained in Chikurubi Maximum Prison,in Harare.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. HopewellChin’ono was released on bail on September 2, 2020 after spending 44 days inpre-trial detention for “incitement to commit public violence” (see backgroundinformation).

The Observatory condemns the new arbitrary detention of Mr. HopewellChin’ono which seems once again to be only aimed at punishing him for hislegitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls upon theauthorities of Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally release him and toput an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him as well as allhuman rights defenders in the country.

Background information:

On July 20, 2020, 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 andOrder section of Harare Central Police Station. At the time of the arrest, theState agents did not produce any arrest warrant and refused to produce identificationdocuments to Mr. Chin’ono.

On the same day, police officers arrested Mr. Jacob Ngarivhume, the Presidentof Transform Zimbabwe, an opposition political party, at his house in Harare before conducting him to HarareCentral Police Station. Mr. Ngarivhume is the alleged organiserof the civil society’s demonstration against corruption and for the PresidentEmmerson Mnangagwa to step down which was scheduled for July 31, 2020.

Both men were denied access to their lawyer and were not informed promptlyof the charges they were facing, in violation of their right to due process.The Minister of Information and Publicity of Zimbabwe confirmed[3] later that the policearrested them in connection withallegations 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 toengage 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. HopewellChin’ono, in his presence, in search forgadgets which they say he used to post three tweets “inciting public violence”. Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa, Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono’slawyer, had to request for the search warrant various times before the policeofficer showed it to her. She also stopped the police officers from takingcameras, not covered by the warrant. However, in the evening of the same day, agroup armed riot police unlawfully raided Mr. Hopewell’s home and eventuallymanaged to seize his camera.

On July 22, 2020, Messrs. Chin’ono and Ngarivhume appeared respectivelybefore Court 14 and Court 11 of the Rottenrow Magistrates Court, whichpostponed their bail hearings to July 23. The hearings then continued on July24, 2020, when Magistrate Ngoni Nduna refused to grant them bail. AlthoughMessrs. Chin’ono’s and Ngarivhume’s lawyers appealed the decision before theHigh Court, Justice Tawanda Chitapi dismissed their appeal on August 6, 2020.

Another appeal was subsequently filed by their lawyers based on"changed circumstances", after both human rights defenders weretransferred from Harare Remand Prison to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison onAugust 7, 2020, where their rights to receive food parcels and to communicatewith their lawyers had been severely restricted. A hearing within the frameworkof Mr. Chin’ono’s second appeal took place on August 18, 2020 but the court didnot finalise the bail hearing due to questions raised by prosecutor WhisperMabhaudhi regarding Ms. Mtetwa’s eligibility to continue as the lead defencecounsel for Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono. The court advised Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono tofind another lawyer to allow the bail proceedings to continue as Ms. Mtetwa hasbeen ordered to stand down from representing him[4].

On September 2, 2020, Messrs. HopewellChin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume were granted bail by the High Court. They wereordered to pay respectively a 10,000 Zimbabwean dollar bail (approximately 100Euros) and a 50,000 Zimbabwean dollar bail (approximately 503 Euros). They werealso requested to surrender their passports, to report to police three times aweek and to refrain from posting on social media. In addition, M. HopewellChin’ono was reportedly asked to hand over title deeds. The trial of Mr. Chin’onois set for December 7 to 9, 2020.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono, as well as all human rightsdefenders in Zimbabwe;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono as hisdetention is arbitrary and only aimed at sanctioning his legitimate humanrights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judiciallevel, against Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono, as well as all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensurethat they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, 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 andfundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of HumanRights and the international human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

Addresses:

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

· Mr. Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs, thesecretary@moha.gov.zw,

· Mr. Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of ForeignAffairs, mfa@zimfa.gov.zw

· Mr. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legaland Parliamentary Affairs, 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 orembassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, November 16, 2020

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

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

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18

· Tel OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39


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

[2] Henrietta Rushwayo, the president of theZimbabwe Miners Federation, was arrested on October 26, 2020 at the RobertMugabe International Airport as she tried to go to Dubai with 6 kgs of gold.She was subsequently charged with smuggling under the Customs and Excise Act.

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

[4] For more information, see the Observatoryurgent appeal ZWE 002 / 0720 / OBS 084.1 from August 20, 2020.

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