By Mark | January 18, 2013
58 Civil Society Organsiations(CSOs) including ACTSA have released the following joint statement on the criminalisation of CSOs and their work in Zimbabwe
HARARE, 18 January 2013 – We, the Zimbabwean Civil Society Organizations, listed below, (CSOs) condemn the unashamed intimidatory and repressive tactics being employed by the state against civil society organizations and leaders in Zimbabwe, which we have taken note of over a lengthy period.
We contend that the unashamed attacks by the state on Civil Society are indicative of a closing of democratic and electoral space, and based on current form, all and any organization involved in election related issues would be criminalized and attacked.
The Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has also issued a statement on the attacks against human rights defenders:
18 January 2013
We condemn recent attacks against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment.
In the latest case, on January 14, the police charged Okay Machisa, the director of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, for allegedly publishing false statements prejudicial to the State, fraud and forgery after allegedly conducting illegal voter registration. Machisa handed himself to the police on January 14, accompanied by his lawyer, and remains in detention.
In a previous incident, ZimRights Education Programmes Manager, Leo Chamahwinya, and ZimRights Local Chapter Chairperson, Dorcas Shereni, were arrested by the police on 13 December 2012. They were both denied bail by the High Court and remain in detention.
We are concerned about the crackdown on non-governmental organisations and dissenting voices seen as critical of President Robert Mugabe’s rule and apparently politically motivated prosecutions, ahead of the elections which are expected to take place later this year.