Responding to the news that Zimbabwean police on 14 January arrested 25 members of political opposition party Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC) and allegedly physically assaulted the lawyer who was representing them, Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Sothern Africa, said:
“The arrest of members of a political opposition party simply for holding a meeting at a private residence is a shameless assault by Zimbabwean authorities against the rights to privacy, to liberty and security of persons and to freedom of expression. Their chilling message is unmistakeable. It is clear that Zimbabwe authorities will go after anyone who dares oppose them in the upcoming elections.
“These 25 individuals must be released immediately and all charges against them must be dropped. Zimbabwe authorities must respect the right to freedom of assembly in the run-up to the election.
“It is also disgraceful that the police tried to deny these 25 individuals their human right to have access to counsel by physically assaulting their lawyer as he tried to confer with his clients.
“The lawyer should not have been attacked simply for discharging his function of defending his clients. Lawyers should not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.