- Last Updated on 18 March 2013
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The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) issue a strong-worded statement accusing the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other state institutions of sabotaging compliance with the national constitution by harassing lawyers.
The ZLHR statement reacted to the arrest and incarceration of their Board member and award-winning lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa; in the course of duty on Sunday March 17, 2013 - a development that could be construed as police defiance of a High Court order.
"We are well aware of the Machiavellian tactics of the law enforcement agents and other state institutions who have everything to fear from lawyers who represent their clients without fear or favour and insist on full compliance with the law and constitutional safeguards. €
The organisations accused the police of seeking to frighten rights lawyers who want to "continue to soldier on bravely in representing all manner of human rights defenders € and are being targeted by the state.
"There is a misguided belief that by attacking lawyers, as well as their clients, positive forces who believe in a new professional way of behaving will be cowed, and civil society engagement in issues of human rights and democracy will be destroyed, € ZLHR said.
At the time of the pronouncements by the human rights lawyers' organisation, the arrest had become illegal by virtue of a High Court order issued a few hours after the arrest in Harare, by Justice Charles Hungwe, ordering Mtetwa's immediate release.
The human rights lawyer stood like the rock of Gibraltar to safeguard justice in the face of raids against non-governmental organisations and massive arrest of human rights defenders in the past few moons.
Mtetwa was part of the high powered legal team for the award winning Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Director Jestina Mukoko, into whose custody Mukoko was put after her recent arrest on charges of running an illegal organisation and purported illegal dealing in communication gadgets such as radios.
Mtetwa has been representing the Glenview 29, who are MDC-T supporters, facing doubtful charges of murdering Police Inspector Petros Mutedza in Harare's Glenview suburb two years ago in a case that is almost crumbling.
Mtwetwa was the leading defense lawyer for ZIMRIGHTS Director and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson Okay Machisa since his arrest in January 2013 on accusations of producing fake voter registration certificates and he has since been removed from remand.
ZRP reportedly played hide and seek Monday with Mtetwa's defense counsel, who made an Urgent Chamber application on Sunday evening for her release. The cops reportedly shunted Mtetwa back and forth between Harare Central and Rhodesville Police Stations for the better part of Monday leading to an outraged reaction by ZHLR.
In December 2012, the ZLHR's International Human Rights Day Statement delivered to the Supreme Court and the Justice Minister in Harare on December 10 condemned the harassment of lawyers and said it infringed on the rights of the accused.