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Seven human rights defenders facing judicial harassment after attending advocacy training

Status: 
Judicial harassment
About the situation

On 13 August 2019, human rights defenders Rita Nyampinga, Stabile Dewa, George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo appeared before the High Court in Harare to comply with bail conditions. Without providing a trial date, the magistrate stated that the investigations were still ongoing and scheduled their next appearance for 30 August 2019. This is the fifth time they have appeared in court since their arrest at Robert Mugabe International Airport after returning from an international capacity building workshop in the Maldives.

On 10 June 2019, the High Court of Harare granted bail under very strict conditions to human rights defenders Rita Nyampinga and Stabile Dewa. Their co-detainees George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo were granted bail on 7 June 2019. The human rights defenders were arrested at the Robert Mugabe international airport after returning from an international capacity building workshop in the Maldives. They are now awaiting trial.

About the HRDs

George Makoni works on local governance with the Centre for Community Development Trust. Nyasha Frank Mpahlo’s work with Transparency International Zimbabwe focuses on the issue of corruption. Tatenda Mombeyarara, a member of Citizens Manifesto, in the area of citizen participation. Gamuchirai Mukura, through his work at the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development Trust, seeks to contribute to the process of peacebuilding in the country. Farirai Gumbonzvanda is a girls’ rights defender and community volunteer at the Rozaria Memorial Trust. Stabile Dewa works on women’s rights at the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence, and Rita Nyampinga promotes the rights of female prisoners through her work with the Female Prisoners Support Trust.

20 August 2019
Continuous judicial harassment of seven human rights defenders

On 13 August 2019, human rights defenders Rita Nyampinga, Stabile Dewa, George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo appeared before the High Court in Harare to comply with bail conditions. Without providing a trial date, the magistrate stated that the investigations were still ongoing and scheduled their next appearance for30 August 2019. This is the fifth time they have appeared in court since their arrest at Robert Mugabe International Airport after returning from an international capacity building workshop in the Maldives.

The magistrate dismissed the human rights defenders’ lawyer’s application seeking to compel the state to release their laptops, phones and passports, continued confiscation of which is not part of the bail conditions as granted by the High Court. These items were confiscated by the authorities on 20 May 2019 upon the defenders’ arrest. The travel costs associated with the bail condition to report regularly to the High Court are putting financial strain on the human rights defenders, especially Frank Mupahlo, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, and Tatenda Mombeyarara who reside outside of Harare. The continued judicial harassment is also negatively impacting on the health of the human rights defenders.

On 21 June 2019, local Chairperson of the ruling party ZANU PF, Justin Kiss, told hundreds of supporters at a rally held in Ward 34 Mufakose that George Makoni was a “sell out” and should be dealt with accordingly. He accused the seven human rights defenders of conspiring to remove President Mnangagwa from office.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the continuous judicial harassment and smear campaign against George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa and Rita Nyampinga, as it is believed to be directly motivated by their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

 

 

14 June 2019
Seven human rights defenders facing judicial harassment after attending advocacy training

On 10 June 2019, the High Court of Harare granted bail under very strict conditions to human rights defenders Rita Nyampinga and Stabile Dewa. Their co-detainees George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo were granted bail on 7 June 2019. The human rights defenders were arrested at the Robert Mugabe international airport after returning from an international capacity building workshop in the Maldives. They are now awaiting trial.

Download the Urgent Appeal

George Makoni works on local governance with the Centre for Community Development Trust. Nyasha Frank Mpahlo’s work with Transparency International Zimbabwe focuses on the issue of corruption. Tatenda Mombeyarara, a member of Citizens Manifesto,  in the area of citizen participation. Gamuchirai Mukura, through his work at the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development Trust, seeks to contribute to the process of peacebuilding in the country. Farirai Gumbonzvanda is a girls’ rights defender and community volunteer at the Rozaria Memorial Trust. Stabile Dewa works on women’s rights at the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence, and Rita Nyampinga promotes the rights of female prisoners through her work with the Female Prisoners Support Trust.

In May 2019, all seven human rights defenders went to the Maldives to attend a training on civil engagement with a focus on effective advocacy and communication strategies, organised by the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). They were arrested at the Robert Mugabe international airport after returning from the training. George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo were arrested on 20 May 2019,  Farirai Gumbonzvanda was arrested the next day, and Stabile Dewa and Rita Nyampinga were arrested on 27 May 2019. All seven human rights defenders were charged with subverting constitutional government under Article 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law Act, and transferred to the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo were detained for over 2 weeks in violation of the right to bail.  Rita Nyampinga, who is 61 years old, was denied adequate medical care while she needs a chronic medication. On 10 June 2019, the High Court of Harare granted bail to Rita Nyampinga and Stabile Dewa with strict conditions to report everyday at police stations and continuing to reside at the same adresses until until the case is finalised. George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo were granted bail on 7 June 2019. The human rights defenders are now awaiting trial.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the judicial harassment of George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa and Rita Nyampinga, as it is believed to be directly motivated by their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.