Human rights activist arrested for publishing falsehoods


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The acting director of Amani Trust Frances Lovemore was arrested on 29 August for violating a section of the Public Order and Security Act which prohibits publication of “falsehoods” prejudicial to the State.

Amani Trust was a human rights organisation.

Lovemore was questioned about international media reports quoting her as saying rape was being used by ZANU-PF youth militias as a political weapon.

The United States embassy in Harare said although Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and his propaganda machine had, in the past, levelled all sorts of venomous attacks against Amani Trust, this time the government had upped the ante.

“The outrageous treatment of Lovemore appears to be a shot across the bow for other human rights and civic organisations, and we suspect that a GOZ crackdown against other segments of civil society is not far off,” the embassy said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2001, LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2001

2002-08-30 09:33

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 002001

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2012

TAGS: PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED

 

REF: HARARE 1984

 

Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).

 

1. (C) On August 29, police detained Frances Lovemore,

acting director of Zimbabwe’s leading human rights

organization, Amani Trust. She was charged with violating

the section of the repressive Public Order and Security Act

(POSA) which prohibits publication of “falsehoods”

prejudicial to the state. After questioning her at the

Harare Central Police Station in the company of a lawyer,

police bundled her into a vehicle and took her to an

undisclosed location. She was detained incommunicado

overnight, and her attorneys were not provided access to her

until late in the morning on August 30, after the

Attorney-General’s office intervened at the behest of her

lawyer.

 

2. (C) The saga began in the morning of August 29, when

police detectives appeared at the offices of Amani Trust with

a warrant authorizing a search for “subversive materials” in

Lovemore’s possession. Police searched her office and

confiscated a report from Amnesty International, a copy of

the UN Convention Against Torture, and a number of political

violence reports produced regularly by the UN Human Rights

NGO Forum. Lovemore was then taken to Harare Central Police

station, where she was questioned about international media

reports quoting Lovemore as saying rape was being used by

ZANU-PF youth militias as a political weapon. The group then

returned to conduct a wider search of Amani’s offices

(ignoring the restrictions in the search warrant), and

returned to the police station. Lovemore was asked to sign a

“warned and cautioned” statement, then was formally charged

under POSA.

 

3. (C) Lovemore is expected to appear in court for a bail

hearing on the morning of August 30, and the

Attorney-General’s office has told her attorney it will not

oppose the granting of bail. One of her attorneys told us

that Lovemore appeared physically okay after her overnight

detention, but was hungry because she had been provided no

food during the previous 24 hours. In addition, she had

spent a very cold night in the cell, as she had not been

given a blanket or the opportunity to obtain clothing warmer

than the light dress she was wearing at the time of her

arrest.

 

Comment

——-

 

4. (C) Lovemore’s arrest came only several hours after the

bombing of the office of an independent radio station

(reftel), so it was not a good day for freedom of speech in

Zimbabwe. Lovemore told us earlier in the week she was

alarmed by a significant increase in the numbers of

apparently politically-motivated rapes reported to her

office, and she has worked hard to publicize this troubling

development. The Government of Zimbabwe has grown

increasingly annoyed by the international media’s focus on

this issue, and it clearly blames Lovemore. Although

Jonathan Moyo and his propaganda machine have, in the past,

leveled all sorts of venomous attacks against Amani Trust,

this time the GOZ has upped the ante. The outrageous

treatment of Lovemore appears to be a shot across the bow for

other human rights and civic organizations, and we suspect

that a GOZ crackdown against other segments of civil society

is not far off.

 

SULLIVAN

(18 VIEWS)

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The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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