Beatrice Mtetwa barred from representing client
21 August 2020

Beatrice Mtetwa barred from representing client

Zimbabwe

On 18 August 2020, human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was barred from representing the detained journalist Hopewell Chin’ono at the Harare Magistrate Court. The Zimbabwean magistrate further ordered that the lawyer should be charged with contempt of court. This was reported by Frontline Defenders.

Beatrice Mtetwa is a human rights lawyer and a member of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). She has represented many human rights defenders, journalists and opposition figures and as a result of this work has been targeted and subjected to intimidation and harassment.

On 18 August 2020, at a hearing to discuss the conditional release of detained human rights defender and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, the magistrate Ngoni Nduna barred Beatrice Mtetwa from representing her client, who she has represented since he was detained on 20 July 2020.

The magistrate Ngoni Nduna ordered that Beatrice Mtetwa be charged with contempt of court in relation to comments about the case that were posted on a Facebook page. The page is run by a filmmaker who produced a documentary about the human rights lawyer’s work. The filmmaker has made several posts on the page stating she is the owner and author, and that Beatrice Mtetwa does not operate the page, nor has she ever posted on the page. The lawyers representing the State alleged that the comments, calling on the international community to speak out against Hopewell Chin’ono‘s imprisonment, were made by Beatrice Mtetwa.

Magistrate Ngoni Nduna declared that he will refer his ruling to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for possible further punishment of the human rights lawyer. Beatrice Mtetwa will appeal the ruling by Magistrate Ngoni Nduna.

Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned by the court’s decision to bar Beatrice Mtetwa from representing Hopewell Chin’ono and the charges of contempt of court brought against her. We will continue to follow the case closely.

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