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Five Independent Outreach Monitors Arrested in Zimbabwe

Published on Saturday 10th July 2010

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) report that 5 independent monitors of the constitutional outreach programme were arrested Thursday evening in Chirumanzi and detained at Charandura Police Station.

Karikoga Ernest Mudzingwa, Farai Agnes Tete, Rev. Clever Valemi, Isaac Makoni, and Torevei Munhangu were part of a monitoring team deployed in the Midlands Province to monitor ongoing public hearings meant to shape the content of a new constitution.

Several civil society groups including the ZLHR, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Peace Project Independent Constitutional Monitoring Project came together under the banner of 'ZZZICOMP' to monitor what has turned out to be a chaotic outreach exercise marred by ZANU PF intimidation.

According to the ZLHR their monitors "were detained for an hour, whilst the police searched them, took their cellular phones, noted down contacts, and read messages received and sent. They also searched their wallets and took their national identity cards. This was despite the fact that they had not preferred any charges against them."

The lawyers' group says a memory stick belonging to Karikoga Ernest Mudzingwa, the ZZZICOMP Provincial Coordinator for Midlands, was confiscated by the police and has not been returned. "After an hour the five monitors were released on condition that they report to Gweru Rural police station at 08:00hrs on Friday 9 July 2010," the ZLHR said.

On Friday, they went to the police station in the company of their lawyers. It was there that they were attended to by police officers from the Police Internal Security Intelligence section. "The unnamed police proceeded to profile the five and took their physical addresses. After negotiations the police agreed to release the five into the custody of their lawyer without any charges being levelled against them."

Police said they were unclear about whether the monitors needed to be accredited with the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee or not, and said they would follow up on the issue later. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga however dismissed the police claims saying COPAC had already acknowledged the legitimate role of the independent monitors.

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