Responding to the arbitrary arrest and detention of two lawyers Doug Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi by Zimbabwe police on 4 September 2023, for representing Womberaiishe Nhende an opposition elected councillor and Sonele Mukhuhlani, who were abducted and tortured over the weekend, Khanyo Farisè, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said:
“We strongly condemn the arrest and detention of human rights lawyers simply for discharging their functions. Their arrests are a travesty and mark a new low for what is left of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Charges against Doug Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi must be dropped.
“The arrest and detention of Doug Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi is an attack on the independence of the legal profession and fair trial rights in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean human rights lawyers have fearlessly defended targeted human rights defenders and political activists in the context of systematic violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly which have intensified in the run up to Zimbabwe’s 2023 general elections.
“Authorities must uphold international standards on the independence of the legal profession and fair trial rights by ensuring that lawyers are not targeted for discharging their function of defending their clients. Lawyers should be able to discharge their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference. Lawyers should not be identified with their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.