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Harare police launch manhunt for members of WRI's affiliate GALZ

GALZ Alert 17 August 2012

Harare police have launched a manhunt of the 44 GALZ members who were beaten and detained before being released without charges last week. From last night the police have visited the homes of about ten members. It is not clear what they want from the members, so far three of them who were detained, interrogated and their personal details recorded have been released.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights are assisting members who have been summoned to police stations in their respective neighborhoods. Thirty-one men and thirteen women members were arrested on 11th August 2012 whilst at an after party of the GALZ violations report launch were ordered to give their names, home addresses and other contact details when they were in detention.

The incident occurred when four police officers attempted to gain entry into the premises before calling for back up where about fifteen riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest. Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists.

We will keep you updated as more information comes through.

Please contact the undersigned for more information
Patience Mandishona : + 263 772 444 584
Gilbert Kunyarimwe : + 263 776 400 605
Samuel Matsikure: + 263 772 210 836
or Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

GALZ Partner Guide to arrest of “GALZ 44” Incident

17 August 2012

Background

Four police officers attempted to gain entry into the GALZ premises shortly after the launc of the GALZ Violations Report and the briefieng of the Second Draft of the Zimbabwe Constitution done by the Crisis Coalition, advocacy committee Chairperson on Saturday 11 August 2012.
About fifteen riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest.Thirty one men and thirteen women members were detained overnight at Harare Central Police Station on 11 August 2012. Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge. Police denied lawyers access to all 44, however they released all 44 on Sunday 12 August without charge.

GALZ believes that the rights of it members were violated and thus request support to highlight the State’s hand in curtailing individual freedoms through the actions of ZRP.

The right to be free from Torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

Members were beaten, verbally abused, and were forced to assault each other. Transgender people were verbally abused and their gender questioned. The police further violated participants’ right to not be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in terms of section 15 of the Constitution when they assaulted participants using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists. No basis in law exists which justified the limitation of these rights in these circumstances.

Right to protection from arbitrary arrest

GALZ Members suspected of having a gay or lesbian identity were detained for attending the GALZ meeting. This detention was illegal, as these members committed no offence. Arresting someone on the presumption of their sexuality is to all intent and purposes “illegal”. The police violated sections 13, 17 and 18 of the current Zimbabwe Constitution by unlawfully arresting people without a valid reason, subjecting them to an unlawful search of their person and property, and denying them access to their legal representatives.

Members Rights to freedom of association and assembly were violated as the 44 were subsequently arrested for being at the GALZ office at that particular moment. Sections 20 and 21 of the Zimbabwe Constitution protect the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Every person in Zimbabwe is entitled to hold opinions and impart ideas without interference. Every person in Zimbabwe has the right to assemble freely, to associate with other persons, and to belong to associations which protect their interests.

In a democratic society, the launching of a report on human rights violations perpetrated against the LGBTI community, and the dissemination of information regarding the contents of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution should be encouraged.

This should not remain the preserve of a select group in any society.

What can you do?

  • Release statements alone or in jointly with GALZ, condemning Police action and conduct on the manner in which they arrested and detained the 44 GALZ members.
  • Express concern on the continued harassment of GALZ members with the continuing home visits by the police.
  • Condemn the use of violence by the Police during the arrest.
  • Write to the Police Commissioner and demand an investigation into the conduct of the Police on duty summoned to arrest the GALZ members
  • Contact Political Leaders and encourage them to condemn the violence and continued harassment of GALZ members and other civil society leaders in line with the provisions of the Global Political agreement
  • Call on COPAC to condemn the actions of Police to try and stifle citizen engagement in the Constitutional Process and for it to encourage free discussion on the Constitution
  • Condemn the use of Violence and Torture as a form of extracting non-existent information from Individuals.
  • Demand an end to the continued harassment of Human rights defenders in Zimbabwe