The Forum is deeply concerned by the arrest of human rights defender and lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. Ms Mtetwa was arrested on Sunday 17 March 2013 on charges of obstructing the course of justice while she was carrying out her duties as a legal practitioner.
Ms Mtetwa was rendering legal assistance to her client when she was arrested. It is worrying to note that even after the High Court’s Justice Hungwe ordered the immediate release police have continued to frustrate efforts to secure her release. Ms Mtetwa has been at the forefront of championing human rights for several years, as well as representing several human rights defenders who have faced prosecution and persecution. Her arrest must therefore be understood in that context – it is harassment for fighting for, and demanding the observance of human rights.
The arrest of Ms Mtetwa undermines the constitutionally protected right to secure the protection of the law by being represented by a legal practitioner. It mocks the justice system, as Ms Mtetwa cannot carry out the duties she is statutorily mandated to carry out as an officer of the court. The Forum is calling upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to adhere to the letter of the law in carrying out their duties, respect the rule of law and respect individual fundamental freedoms.