US lawyers slam Zim breakdown of law, order

HARARE - The American Bar Association (ABA) yesterday said it was deeply concerned about the ongoing unrest in Zimbabwe, arbitrary arrests and the fast-tracking of trials without due process protections.

This comes after Zimbabwean lawyers staged a demo at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday to demonstrate against the alleged denial of justice for hundreds of people apprehended in a violent crackdown on protests that shut down the country.

At least 1 000 people, including children, have been arrested in connection with protests staged against a 150 percent hike in fuel price hikes.

Lawyers say many are languishing in jail after the appalling manner in which cases were being handled at the courts. The lawyers accused the courts of holding mass trials, fast-tracking cases and systematically-denying accused persons bail.

“While the ABA condemns acts of violence that occurred during recent public protests against the government, we are troubled over allegations of arbitrary arrests and the fast-tracking of trials without due process protections.

“These actions have no place in a democratic society,” the influential body said.

With more than 400 000 members, the ABA is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organisations in the world.

As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

It said credible reports indicate that many of those arrested are being tried in groups of 50 or more and are being denied the right to bail and to effectively consult their lawyers.

“In some instances, lawyers reportedly have not been informed of the charges against their clients in advance, and it is unclear whether individualised proof of guilt is being required in these deeply flawed proceedings, in which several alleged protestors have already been convicted.

“The ABA urges the government of Zimbabwe to immediately ensure that all the accused are afforded full due process of law, as guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s Constitution and relevant regional and international instruments.

“Without fair trials, trust in government and the rule of law collapses,” the US Bar said in a statement.

Comments (4)

With all due respect, why should Zimbabweans care what the ABA thinks? Has any one of them set foot in Zim since the acts of terror by the MDC? Or do they get all their reports from the MDC?

Buns Tinobvinex - 1 February 2019

Zimbabwe is a member of the international community and aspires to participate positively to the wellness of the peoples of the world. The America Bar Association is a highly recognised professional voluntary membership their word is very vital for (inter-alia) investment credit rating or for participative democrac. Its another black mark on the country's image the US foreign relations office and congress will take heed to recommendations by ABA than by from a delegation of MDC ministers as zanupf want zimbos to believe.

Sinyo - 2 February 2019

You give the ABA too much credit. They simply issued a statement because a group of so called human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe were demonstrating against the 'breakdown of law and order'. Funny because the breadown was initiated by the MDC and its allies. By all likelihood the issuance of the statement was initiated in Zimbabwe - probably by Biti and Chamisa. That said, do you know that the ABA opposed the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court? They issued a long statement eplaining why they thought Kavanaugh was not suitable; their opinion was completely ignored anyway. I bet only a fraction of ABA members can pick Zimbabwe on a map let alone explain what is really going on there. An investor who looks for guidance from the ABA is an unwise investor. There are numerous other indicators that investors go by. So, tell me again, why should Zimbos care what the ABA thinks?

Buns Tinobvinex - 2 February 2019

The heavy handed reaction by security forces to the striking civilians, the dragnet arrests of political activists, human rights champions the raping of women and children cannot be ignored coz its diabolic primitive and repressive.. The government must be ashamed that their acts are known by organisation thousands of miles away. They shut down the internet hoping all will remain in the dark another ill-advised move in the series of own goals our esteemed leaders made. A big dent to efforts on re-engaging with the international community remarks by ABA reiterates that big dent. Yes Zimbos must care what ABA thinks and listening Government must be very very worried when its atrocities are laid bare. Coming onto Brett Kavanaugh appointment not only ABA was against it but most of the democrats MPs were but due to numbers game the republicans prevailed. ABA's concerns were not completely ignored but were noted. They maybe numerous indicators investors go by but the most important and considered ones are rule of law, human rights record and policy consistence.

Sinyo - 4 February 2019

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