World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Deteriorating law and order situation in Zimbabwe

27 October 2003

Letter to H.E. Honourable Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Zimbabwe, 27 October, 2003

Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned at the deteriorating law
and order situation in Zimbabwe. During the year 2003, there has been an unprecedented
increase in incidents of police harassment and brutality against human
rights defenders and members of the judiciary. The most recent of such incidents
took place on the night of 12th October when Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa, a renowned
human rights lawyer, was assaulted by the personnel of the Zimbabwe Republic
Police stationed at Borrowdale police station. The security personnel have the
duty and responsibility to protect the citizens of Zimbabwe.

The case of Mrs Mtetwa is not an isolated incident of police excesses. There
have been several such incidents resulting in grave and serious human rights violations
of human rights defenders. Others, whose human rights have been violated,
include: Mr Gabriel Shumba (January 2003), Justice Benjamin Paradza (February
2003), Mr Alec Muchadehama (March 2003), Mr Reginal Chidawanyika (June
2003), and Mr Dumisani Kufaruwenga and Mpokiseng Dube (August 2003).

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches which met in Geneva
last August/September 2003, was aware of the gravity of this situation when it
made the following observation: "We share the pain and suffering of the people
of Zimbabwe as a result of escalating violence and repression of fundamental
human rights by the state and groups encouraged and supported by the govern-
ment. The violence, intimidation, unlawful arrest and torture perpetrated by the
police, ruling party militia and other state agents must come to an end."

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I call on Your Excellency to order
an immediate enquiry into the case of Mrs Mtetwa and others who have been the
subject of police brutality, and ensure that justice is done to them. Those responsible
for such reprehensible acts must be brought before the court of law for trial.

We urge your government to take immediate steps to restore the rule of law
and put an end to arbitrary arrests, torture and killings.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Weiderud