Order barring Beatrice Mtetwa from handling a case overturned
On 17 August 2020, lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was disqualified from representing her client journalist Hopewell Chin’ono by a Zimbabwean Magistrate. This attracted global concerns. Today, on the 15th of December, there has been a very welcome development in the case.
In their application for review of the Magistrate’s decision filed in September 2020, Mtetwa & Chin’ono argued that the Magistrate’s ruling is unconstitutional and effectively deprives the freelance journalist of his right to legal representation of his choice. In the hearing of the application today, Advocate Taona Nyamakura, representing Mtetwa and Chin’ono, told the judge that the filing of the State’s application in Magistrate court which led to the barring of Mtetwa was malicious. The review application proved successful. Today, we were informed that the judge has set aside the Magistrate’s ruling and ordered that he must be disqualified from further participation in Chin’ono’s criminal trial.
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.
The case of Mtetwa is far from an isolated case of harassment of lawyers in Zimbabwe. Over the past year, multiple Zimbabwean lawyers have been arrested or harassed in connection to their professional activities. Earlier this year, Lawyers for Lawyers called upon the Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that lawyers in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. We will continue to follow the situation of lawyers in Zimbabwe closely.
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