Taken from Daily News
Kennedy Masiye, Zimbabwe’s recently-crowned human rights lawyer of the year, has said a fractured hand he sustained from police brutality, has motivated him to continue with his human rights work.
Masiye, who is a project lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was assaulted by police at Africa Unity Square in central Harare on October 20 while attempting to assist organisers of the Occupy Africa Unity square protest, who were being assaulted by cops for staging a peaceful sit-in.
The protestors were demanding that President Robert Mugabe steps down for failure to satisfy the needs of Zimbabweans.
Nursing a fractured arm, Masiye said the prevailing police brutality cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.
“I used to see police brutality on paper, this time around they put it on my doorstep,” Masiye said.
“I feel more inspired than ever to defend people. The police baptised me into fighting for those whose rights would be violated.
“They just broke my hand and not my spirit.”
Masiye said he was disappointed that the government was not keen on upholding the letter and spirit of the Zimbabwe Constitution.
“I have been let down by the system that I thought was on the verge of improving given that we have a good Constitution that prohibits such acts as torture,” he said
Masiye described the human rights situation in Zimbabwe as dire.
“If lawyers go to the extent of being disregarded professionally and being meted with such brutality by officers of the law who themselves should be protecting the rights of the ordinary citizens, surely it says a lot about the human rights situation in the country and how the government is committed to upholding these rights,” he said.
Masiye said Zimbabweans need a police force that upholds rights and urged lawmakers to put in place laws that curb brutality and torture.
The attack on Masiye comes at a time the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is running a campaign to encourage the government to ratify the Convention Against Torture and also pass an anti-torture law.
Masiye said it was clear that the police had no intention of protecting Zimbabweans because two weeks after his beating, the police are yet to open a docket on the matter.
Abel Chikomo, director of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, said it was sad that the police continued to violate human rights with impunity.
“It is worse when police brutalise human rights defenders going about their ordinary and legitimate duties of representing citizens,” Chikomo said.
“The case of Masiye clearly demonstrates that the police do not care about what the Constitution requires of them.”
Chikomo said is it was a warning to all human rights defenders that they are equally vulnerable.