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Urgent Interventions

Zimbabwe: release of 9 trade unionists

Case ZWE 111202.1. ESCRC
Follow-up to Case ZWE 111202. ESCRC
Release/Ill-Treatment/Violations of trade union rights

Geneva, 12 December 2002

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

New Information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), a member of the OMCT network, of the release of the nine trade union leaders belonging to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) arrested on December 9 2002 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

According to the information received, in a court hearing on December 11 2002, the judge rejected the prosecutor's plea that the nine trade unionists detained since December 9 be charged under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). It is reported that the police released the detainees after this ruling, but threatened to rearrest them under the provisions of the POSA, although this contradicts earlier statements from President Mugabe and the ruling party that the POSA would not be used against trade unions.

Moreover, it is reported that one of the detainees, Mr. Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary of the
ZCTU was beaten with a broom during his detention in a police cell in Harare. The information received also relates that the police threatened to “remove or eliminate” him if he did not resign as ZCTU’s General Secretary.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, while trade unionists were taking part in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)’ annual review symposium on December 9 2002, the police intervened at around 5 pm and arrested nine trade unionists.

These arrests allegedly came against a background of sharp economic decline in Zimbabwe and on the eve of a December 10 national strike called by a coalition of civic groups and supported by the ZCTU, allegedly involving tens of thousands of workers, though it is reported that the meeting was not related to this strike action

Action Requested

Please write to the Zimbabwean authorities urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wellington Chibebe;

ii. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of his injuries, identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial civil tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

iii. guarantee the respect for economic, social and cultural rights and labour rights of the workers, including the right to work, the right to fair wages guaranteeing a decent living for the workers and their families, the right to form and join trade unions and the right to strike.


. President Robert Mugabe Fax: 263 4 79 03 16 / 263 4 73 46 44.

. Home Affairs Ministry Mr. Dumiso Dabenjwa Fax: 263 4 72 67 16.

Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country

Geneva, December 12th, 2002

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