US legal group slams Zim for violating civil rights leader’s rights

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By Alois Vinga

UNITED States (US) based legal group American Bar Association (ABA)  has poked holes into two charges against the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)   president, Orbert Masaraure are violating the Constitution of Zimbabwe and international rights conventions.

In a recent report the lobby group focused on a murder case in which  Masaraure is accused of pushing a fellow ARTUZ member, Roy Issa to his death from the seventh floor of a Harare hotel in 2016.

The second charge is of public incitement to violence after the trade unionist allegedly authored a statement encouraging demonstrations against the arrest of ARTUZ member Robson Chere in connection with Issa’s murder.

In the statement, Masaraure rallied the public to write to President Emmerson Mnangagwa demanding the release of Chere and join a ‘Black Tuesday’ protest by wearing black and sharing pictures online in support.


But analysing the manner in which the case is being handled, ABA questioned the placement of the matter under the CID Law and Order Division known for handling politically sensitive cases.

With respect to the public incitement charge where postponement of the trial has continued into 2023, ABA raised serious concerns.

“The failure of the authorities to bring both matters to trial seemingly based on improper and incomplete police investigations contravenes the principles prescribed in the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa, 47 the ICCPR, and the Constitution.

“Given that the alleged incident took place in 2016, what further investigations are required at this stage are unclear.

“In the alternative, it appears that far from being continually postponed for legitimate reasons, these delays form part of the authorities’ intentional and on-going targeting of  Masaraure for his legitimate trade union activities,” reads the ABA report.

The grouping of legal experts believes that Masaraure’s actions to petition the President wearing black in protest, and calling for protests in support of his release were in sync with legitimate forms of expression and underscored that the use of criminal prosecution fails the necessity test.

“The authorities’ continued to use laws to arrest and charge him in relation to ARTUZ’s peaceful protests constitute a violation of  Masaraure’s right to freedom of assembly.

“Given the number of cases brought against him, the length of time the authorities have taken to produce an indictment, the use of specific laws and their connection. It appears that the authorities’ actions are aimed at stifling his right to form and operate a trade union in Zimbabwe,” the report added.

ABA called for the State to drop all “unsubstantiated” charges against Masaraure and to carry out a full, independent, and transparent review of the relevant authorities’ targeting of trade union leaders.

“The unionist’s rights under the Zimbabwe Constitution and the ICCPR appear to have been violated, including the right to a timely trial, freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to form a trade union,” added ABA.