Arrest of Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe

Not sent after

Use this form to send an email to His Excellency Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Rebuplic of Zimbabwe at the United Nations.

Dear Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku,

I am very concerned about the raid on the offices of War Resisters' International's affiliate Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) on 21 January 2010, and the arrest of Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi. Both have been charged on Monday, 24 January 2010, with contravening Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe.

Chademana and Muhambi were also charged with being in possession of obscene, indecent or prohibited articles in breach of Section 26 (1) (b) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act Chapter 10:04.

Both have initially been denied access to their lawyers, but were finally granted access on 24 May 2010. Both are now expected to appear in court on Wednesday 26 May 2010 after the Africa Day holiday.

When Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyers attended at Harare Central Police Station on Monday morning they were informed by Mr Gomo-that Chademana and Muhambi were in police holding cells and would be brought to where the legal practitioners were in order that their warned and cautioned statements could be recorded in the presence of, and with the assistance of, their legal practitioners. The legal practitioners were however shocked when they later discovered that, whilst they were waiting at the police station with the assurances of the Investigating Officer, their clients had actually been removed from custody and escorted under police guard to the GALZ Milton Park offices for a further unwarranted search of the offices without the lawyers’ knowledge and/or consent. The invasion included the illegal and forced investigation into the two GALZ employees’ personal e-mail accounts, and the forced divulging of their respective passwords by the police officers concerned. The illegal and unilateral action was taken with the full knowledge that the suspects were legally represented and consequently entitled to have their legal practitioners present during all police activities.

Chademana and Muhambi were not given the opportunity to advise their lawyers; nor did the police themselves advise the legal practitioners where their clients were and what they were doing with their clients. The Police deliberately provided misleading information to the lawyers who were attending at Harare Central Police Station when the latter requested to see their clients and discuss their warned and cautioned statements.

The arrest and treatment of Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi is a violation of their human rights. I urge you to respect human rights, and I urge the government of Zimbabwe to immediately release Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi.