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Government arrests human rights lawyers

The government arrested Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, two prominent human rights lawyers who were representing 31 opposition officials, and charged them with obstruction of justice.

Police ignored a series of court orders granting the detainees access to their lawyers and ordering their release.

The list of those arrested was almost a who-is-who in the Movement for Democratic Change.

 

Full cable:

 

ble 07HARARE383, INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES WITH ARREST OF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE383

2007-05-07 14:32

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7633

PP RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0383/01 1271432

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 071432Z MAY 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1431

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1587

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1454

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1591

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0258

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0855

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1219

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1647

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4052

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1416

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2074

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0714

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1808

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000383

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2017

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES WITH ARREST OF

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS

 

REF: HARARE 00318

 

Classified By: Charge Eric Schultz under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The government on May 4 arrested Alec Muchadehama and

Andrew Makoni, two prominent human rights lawyers who have

been representing 31 opposition officials arrested over the

last six weeks. The two lawyers were charged with

obstruction of justice. Police subsequently ignored a series

of court orders granting the detainees access to their

lawyers and ordering their release, while also conducting an

illegal search of the detainees offices. As of May 7, both

lawyers were still being held, though they have apparently

not been harmed. Opposition leaders and political analysts

believe the arrests of the lawyers and officials are part of

the government’s strategy to cripple the opposition in

advance of elections in March 2008. The Lawyer’s Society

plans a protest march tomorrow afternoon, which we will

observe. End Summary.

 

——————————————— —

Police Arrest and Threaten Human Rights Lawyers

——————————————— —

 

2. (U) On May 4 outside the High Court in Harare, police

arrested Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, two Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyers representing 31

opposition members arrested and detained since March 11.

According to Irene Petras, ZLHR acting director, Muchadehama

and Makoni were initially taken to the infamous Law and Order

section at Harare Central police station for “interrogation.”

ZLHR lawyer Otto Saki told us that he and several other

lawyers were threatened with arrest and physical assault when

they attempted to see the lawyers and inquired about the

reason for their arrests.

 

———————————

And Show Contempt for Rule of Law

———————————

 

3. (U) On the evening of May 4, High Court Judge Karwi

granted a temporary order compelling police to provide

lawyers access to the two arrestees. Police ignored the

order. On the morning of May 5, Judge Karwi found the

arrests “unlawful” and ordered the immediate release of the

two arrestees. Police again ignored the order, claiming they

did not know the whereabouts of Muchadehama and Makoni. On

the morning of May 6, High Court Judge Chitakunye granted a

third order compelling police to physically deliver

Muchadehama and Makoni within the hour to the High Court.

Police yet again ignored the order.

 

4. (U) Instead of producing Muchadehama and Makoni in court

on May 6 as ordered, police took them to their law offices

and executed a search warrant, removing files and documents.

ZLHR lawyers present contended that the search was clearly

unlawful as all documents in the law offices were protected

under attorney-client privilege. They were threatened with

arrest and ordered to leave when they requested to review the

search warrant.

 

HARARE 00000383 002 OF 003

 

 

 

5. (C) Saki told us that ZLHR lawyers finally gained access

to Muchadehama and Makoni on the morning of May 7. He

reported that the two were in good condition and had not been

beaten by police. Saki said Muchadehama and Makoni had been

arrested for “obstruction of justice” as a result of

affidavits they filed refuting claims by police that their

clients were involved in a spate of recent petrol bombings —

attacks opposition leaders contend were actually carried out

by the government to justify its violent crackdown. He said

the Zimbabwean Lawyer’s Society was planning a protest march

for May 8 that would start outside the High Court.

 

——————————————— —–

And Continue to Arrest and Beat Opposition Members

——————————————— —–

 

6. (SBU) On April 30, Mutare police arrested Pishai

Muchauray, a spokesperson for the MDC anti-Senate faction.

We have received reports that police beat him several times

following his arrest. Muchauray joins a growing list of

opposition members considered essential to election

mobilization efforts targeted for arrest and assault by the

government.

 

7. (SBU) Others key opposition members arrested since March

11 include Morgan Komichi, the deputy organizing secretary,

and Elliot Motsi, the organizing secretary for the Harare

suburb of Glen Norah, who were picked up at their homes on

April 20. Also recently arrested were Solomon Madzore,

secretary general of the faction’s youth assembly group,

 

SIPDIS

Kudakwashe Matibiri, an essential member of the faction’s

logistics team, and Luke Tamborenyok, a former journalist and

number two person behind Nelson Chamisa, the faction’s

spokesperson. Notably, Ian Makone, special adviser to

anti-Senate leader Morgan Tsvangirai with intimate knowledge

of the faction’s district-level leaders, remains in custody

and there were reports that he has been severely injured as a

result of torture.

 

8. (C) Press reports indicate that police released Muchauray

on May 4 without charge. The other 31 opposition members

remain in custody as prosecutors delay hearings and

magistrates refuse bail. According to both MDC officials and

independent political analysts, government security

authorities have tortured arrestees to secure false

confessions to petrol bombings, which they believe were in

fact staged by the GOZ and blamed on the opposition. These

sources said the government was also looking for additional

names of individuals in the MDC structures to in turn arrest

and torture.

 

———————–

Adding Injury to Insult

———————–

 

9. (C) Records from Counseling Services Unit (CSU), an NGO

that provides medical attention to victims of government

abuse, show that since February some 60 activists have sought

medical attention, many for serious injuries, as a result of

beatings suffered during abduction and/or while in police

custody. These records relate to individuals arrested and

beaten and/or tortured or beaten without being arrested. The

medical conditions of many of those still in custody are

 

HARARE 00000383 003 OF 003

 

 

unknown.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

10. (C) The court rulings in favor of Muchadehama and Makoni

show that despite government intimidation there are still

independent judges in Zimbabwe. Faced with this

independence, the government appears to be casting aside any

pretence of legality in its efforts to suppress political

opposition in advance of next year’s elections.

SCHULTZ

(33 VIEWS)

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