15 JANUARY 2013
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is deeply concerned about the unrelenting harassment and intimidation of legitimate Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe by law enforcement agencies, in particular the arrest of the ZimRights Director Mr. Okay Machisa.
On the morning of 14 January 2013, Mr. Machisa reported to the Harare Central Police Station in the company of his lawyer Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa. Mr. Machisa was then arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery and publishing falsehoods in contravention of section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and committing fraud and forgery in contravention of section 137 of the same act. The arrest of the ZimRights director follows the arrest and subsequent incarceration of the ZimRights Deputy National Programmes Coordinator, Mr. Leo Chamahwinya who was arrested on 13 December 2012 during a police raid on ZimRights offices. Mr. Chamahwinya is accused of allegedly conducting “illegal voter registration”.
Mr Machisa is set to appear in court later on today the 15th of January 2013.
As the talk for a constitutional referendum and general elections gathers momentum, the Forum implores the responsible authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the country; to ensure that all human rights defenders are free to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisals and to put an end to any kind of intimidation and the incessant harassment of human rights defenders.