Police block NGO demo

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Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC)

BY PRIDE MZARABANI
HUMAN rights groups under the umbrella Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiCZ) yesterday approached the courts challenging a police order banning their planned march against an increase in human rights violations.

The CiCZ had planned to march from the Harare Gardens to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and Parliament building yesterday to deliver a petition against the criminalisation of human rights.

In a letter dated July 18, officer commanding Harare central district Chief Superintendent G Moyo said the march could not be sanctioned.

“I am, however, not in a position to sanction the demonstration. You did not comply with section 7 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act Chapter 11: 23,” Moyo wrote.

However, the CiCZ approached the courts challenging the ban.

In an interview with NewsDay Weekender, CiZC chairperson Peter Mutasa said: “We have gone to the courts and filed an appeal against the ban. We are sending a new notification to the police pending the appeal.”

A ruling on their appeal is expected today.

In a letter dated July 12 to the police seeking permission to march, the CiCZ raised concern over the shrinking democratic space.

“We have taken note of a recent upsurge in incidences of political violence and the concomitant arrest and persecution of human rights defenders and their unfair treatment by law enforcement,” the CiCZ had written.

A number of human rights and opposition activists are currently facing various charges with some such as MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole languishing in remand prison.

Sikhala and Sithole, who face charges of incitement to violence, have claimed to be victims of political persecution.

Human rights and civic groups are up against the Private Voluntary Organisations Bill which they say seeks to regulate their operations and further shrink the democratic space.

Zanu PF has said it will use its parliamentary majority to ensure the Bill is passed into law to control civic groups such as the CiCZ which it accuses of pushing a regime change agenda.