Report: Attacks on Human Rights Lawyers  in Zimbabwe
21 september 2021

Report: Attacks on Human Rights Lawyers in Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Lawyers and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have launched the joint report “Attacks on Human Rights Lawyers in Zimbabwe”. The report reflects on the worrisome trend of increased systematic arrests of a number of Zimbabwean lawyers, and restrictions that have been placed on them, since the beginning of 2020, impacting their freedom to carry out their profession.

Since the 30 July 2018 elections, Zimbabwe has been facing increasing civic unrest and a crackdown on democratic space in the country. National protests and civic activism have been focused on government repression, security sector brutality, corruption, high unemployment, and poor public service delivery. The government has responded to protests with arbitrary arrests and use of force. In September 2019, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule – the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association – had called on Zimbabwe “to embrace and safeguard democracy”. He reported that the police and military regularly made excessive use of force during protests. He added that the use of military forces during protests was starting to be a routine measure in Zimbabwe, although such far-reaching means should only be reserved for truly exceptional circumstances.

On 10 June 2020, human rights experts of the United Nations (UN) called on Zimbabwe to take immediate measures to end a pattern of reported enforced disappearances and torture within the country. Enforced disappearances and incidents of torture appear to have been used to suppress protests and acts of dissent by opposition activists. The government’s intention to suppress opposition and activism has also had a strong impact on the work of lawyers in the country, particularly those working in the field of human rights. ZLHR has stated that there is “a worrying rise in the intimidation, threats and reprisals of lawyers in Zimbabwe”.

The report highlights the current situation of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The report briefly outlines the political situation in Zimbabwe, as well the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a set of illustrative case studies, the report shows how lawyers in Zimbabwe have been barred from representing their clients, have become subjects to arbitrary arrests, and have even been attacked for practicing their profession.

Click here to read the report.

Contact information

For more information please contact the Lawyers for Lawyers Team:

E: or T: +31 20 717 16 38

About Lawyers for Lawyers

Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) is an independent, non-political and non-profit lawyers’ organization with the mission to promote the independent functioning of lawyers and the legal profession across the world in accordance with internationally recognized norms and standard. Our work to support lawyers who are at risk as a result of discharging their professional duties, seeks to protect them from threats, risks and reprisals, strengthens their international recognition and protection in laws, policies and practices, and empower them to fulfil their role as essential agents of the administration of Justice.

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