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URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
ZWE 003 / 0510 / OBS 066
Arbitrary arrest / Release on bail /
Judicial harassment / Confiscation of property
May 28, 2010
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment against Ms. Ellen Chademana and Mr. Ignatius Muhambi, two employees of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), an association that defends the rights of sexual minorities in Zimbabwe, as well as about the police raid to the house of Mr. Chesterfield Samba, Director of GALZ.
According to the information received, on May 21, 2010, nine police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) entered GALZ offices in Milton Park, Harare, with a warrant to search for dangerous drugs and pornographic material, citing contravention of Section 157 (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, and Section 32 (1) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, Chapter 10:04. During the raid, the officers arrested Ms. Ellen Chademana, the receptionist, and Mr. Ignatius Muhambi, the accountant, and took them to the Harare Central Police Station. The police also confiscated computers, records and banners from GALZ offices, and purport to have seized pornographic material, which they claim to be holding as evidence for the case.
On May 22, 2010, Ms. Ellen Chademana and Mr. Ignatius Muhambi were denied access to their lawyers. On May 24, 2010, they were formally accused under the charges of "possessing pornographic material" and "undermining the office of the President".
On May 27, 2010, Ms. Ellen Chademana and Mr. Ignatius Muhambi were released on bail with the obligation to check in at the police station every Monday and Friday, and to stay in Harare until the next hearing, which is expected to be held on June 10, 2010.
Furthermore, on May 26, 2010 around 6:00am, five police officers from the ZRP searched Mr. Chesterfield Samba's house at Alexandra Park, in Harare. The officers confiscated Mr. Samba's birth certificate, passport picture, magazines and business cards. Mr. Chesterfield Samba was not present during the raid, but the family members who were at the house report that the police asked them for Mr. Samba’s whereabouts and when he was expected to return.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the above-mentioned acts of harassment against GALZ members, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, in particular their work in favour of the rights of the sexual minorities in Zimbabwe, and urges the Zimbabwean authorities to put an end to the police harassment against them.
Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Ellen Chademana and Messrs. Ignatius Muhambi and Chesterfield Samba, as well as all GALZ members and all human rights defenders in the country;
ii. Put an end to any kinds of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Ellen Chademana and Messrs. Ignatius Muhambi and Chesterfield Samba, all GALZ members as well as against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.
Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.
- President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President, Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211 / + 2188.8.131.52.58;
- Mr. Khembo Mohadi, co-Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716;
- Mr. Giles Mutsekwa, co-Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716;
- Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: + 263 4 77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155;
- Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General, Police Headquarters, P.O. Box 8807, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084;
- Mr. Justice Johannes Tomana, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO Box 7714, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47;
- Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19;
- Ambassador Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email: email@example.com;
- Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, 11 SQ Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geneva- Paris, May 28, 2010
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
- Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80