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Beatrice Mtetwa

Beatrice Mtetwa

Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
International Press Freedom Award

In 2005, she won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The award citation stated that "in a country where the law is used as a weapon against independent journalists, Mtetwa has defended journalists and argued for press freedom, all at great personal risk".

Burton Benjamin Memorial Award

The Burton Benjamin Memorial Award is named in honor of the late CBS News senior producer and former CPJ chairman who died in 1988. Beatrice Mtetwa, a 2005 recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award, is the first person to be honored with both awards."Mtetwa's courageous efforts on behalf of journalists in Zimbabwe demonstrate her unflinching commitment," CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger said. "She is richly deserving of the Burton Benjamin Award, given for lifetime achievement in the cause of press freedom."

New York Times Article

"We were taken in a pickup truck to the Harare Central Police Station, a large colonial-era complex colloquially known as Law and Order. The detectives’ evident glee at our capture was soon tempered by the arrival of a familiar and implacable foe, Beatrice Mtetwa, the nation’s top human rights lawyer.

She is a striking woman with rectangular glasses and a neatly trimmed Afro. “There is no crime called ‘committing journalism,’ whether it is with accreditation or without,” she informed us privately in her exaggerated, lawyerly diction."

Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize

In 2009, the European Bar Human Rights Institute awarded her the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize, reserved each year to a lawyer who throughout his or her career has illustrated, by activity or suffering, the defence of human rights in the world.

International Human Rights Award
International Women of Courage Award

In 2014 she was a recipient of the International Women of Courage Award: "For more than 20 years Beatrice Mtetwa has fought against injustice, defended press freedom, and upheld the rule of law, accepting difficult cases that other lawyers have declined for fear of political reprisal".

Mtetwa defended two previous International Women of Courage awardees, Jestina Mukoko and Jenni Williams.

I am not an activist because there is any glory or cash to it and not because I'm trying to antagonize the government... I'm doing it because it's a job that's got to be done

Beatrice Mtetwa is a human rights lawyer and a member of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). In her role as a lawyer, she has represented many human rights defenders and opposition figures. By doing so she has often become a target for intimidation and harassment herself. The New York Times described her in 2008 as "Zimbabwe's top human rights lawyer. In one of her more notable cases, she successfully challenged a section of Zimbabwe's Private Voluntary Organizations Act which allowed a government minister the authority to dissolve or replace the board members of non-governmental organizations. Mtetwa is particularly noted for her defense of arrested journalists, both local and international

Despite the challenges faced, the human rights defenders community in Zimbabwe is well organised, active and broad-based in terms of issues and actors involved. It includes NGOs, faith-based groups, human rights lawyers, student activists, social movements, community-level activists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition. Womens’ rights defenders are prominent.


Beatrice Mtetwa