By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have filed an urgent application at the High Court against the ill treatment of arrested journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume.
The development comes after the lawyers’ group reported last week that Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) officials were starving the arrested duo and denying them access to legal representation in privacy.
The urgent court application aims to enforce Section 50 (5) of the Constitution which guarantees the rights of all accused persons detained in any prison.
“The so-called ‘Standing Orders’ are not above the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states in sec 2(1) – this Constitution is the supreme law of the flag of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency,” ZLHR said.
The lawyers’ group said Section 2(2) of the Constitution sets out the obligations imposed on the state institutions and agencies of government at every level.
“In this case, obligations arise from section 50 (5) (b) of the Constitution which states that any person who is detained, including a convicted prisoner has the right at their own expense to consult in private with a legal practitioner of their choice,” said ZLHR.
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were arrested last month, and charged with inciting the public to violently overthrow the government in the foiled July 31 protests, which were supported by the opposition, churches, students and civic groups.
The duo’s arrests have triggered international condemnation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration with senior opposition politicians in neighbouring countries calling on their governments to take firmer positions on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.