Zimbabwe ends proceedings against human rights campaigner

Zimbabwe ends proceedings against human rights campaigner

By agency reporter
29 Sep 2009

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has ordered a permanent stay of the criminal proceedings against the prominent human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko, in a move welcomed by campaigners.

The director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) was facing criminal proceedings on charges of recruiting persons for training as insurgents or saboteurs.

“This is a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe and we welcome it," commented Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. "The government must drop all the charges against human rights and political activists who were targeted for exercising their rights to freedom of association and expression.”

The charges faced by Jestina Mukoko are widely believed to be trumped up by the previous government as part of a wider strategy to silence perceived political opponents.

The charges followed her abduction by state security agents from her home on 3 December 2008. She was detained incommunicado and was tortured by her abducters, together with 23 other human rights and political activists.

“I am so relieved. For the first time from the 3rd of December [2008] my life has become normal [again],” Jestina said after the court ruling.

Since her release from custody on bail in March 2009, after spending three months in custody, Jestina Mukoko has been reporting at the local police station in Norton every Friday. She had to surrender her passport as part of her bail conditions.

“It is high time the Zimbabwean government demonstrates its commitment to the rule of law and human rights by ending the abuse of state institutions in pursuit of a partisan agenda," said Ms Khan. "Those responsible should be investigated and held accountable.”

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