Another gong for top Forum human rights lawyer

In his acceptance speech, Marange said he was profoundly honoured, describing the award as a beacon of recognition for all those who dedicate their lives to the noble cause of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Forum) lawyer, Darlington Marange, has scooped the 2023 Netherlands Human Rights Tulip Award in recognition of his works in defence of human rights.

Marange, a public interest litigation specialist at the Forum, was handed the prestigious award on Tuesday.

The Human Rights Tulip is an award presented by the Dutch government for human rights defenders in Zimbabwe who promote and support human rights in innovative ways. 

Margret Verwijk, the Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia said Marange has championed the rights of countless individuals, families, communities and prisoners in Zimbabwe.

In his acceptance speech, Marange said he was profoundly honoured, describing the award as a beacon of recognition for all those who dedicate their lives to the noble cause of human rights in Zimbabwe.

“In the gentle embrace of this prestigious honour, I am reminded not only of my efforts but of the collective resilience and unwavering spirit of all human rights defenders in our nation,” Marange said.

“This award, bestowed upon us by the Dutch government, is a testament to the innovative ways in which we strive to advance human rights, and it fills our hearts with renewed hope and determination.”

He added: “To the Dutch government, I extend my heartfelt gratitude for this remarkable accolade. Your acknowledgement of our endeavours serves as a powerful affirmation that our work does not go unnoticed, and it ignites a fire within us to continue our vital mission with even greater fervour.

“I share this accolade with the countless individuals and organisations who fearlessly champion human rights. Together, we stand as a testament to the enduring strength of unity and the unyielding power of compassion.”

He said the award acts as a clarion call for all human rights lawyers to redouble their efforts, amplify the voices of the marginalised, and steadfastly defend the rights and dignity of every Zimbabwean. 

“Let us harness this moment to inspire positive change and herald a future where justice and equity reign supreme,” he said.

Marange is the 2022 Law Society of Zimbabwe Young Lawyer of the Year.  The award is sponsored by Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners and is given to an outstanding young human rights lawyer under 35 years of age.

Lawyers awarded the honour will have demonstrated courage in handling human rights work and consistently worked towards promoting and protecting human rights in Zimbabwe.

Marange has fearlessly protected victims of organised violence and torture. 

He represented victims of the 1 August 2018 violence who were shot by the soldiers in Harare's central business district. Several victims are currently before the High Court demanding compensation.

He is a human rights lawyer dedicated to advancing and safeguarding human rights in Zimbabwe through legal action. He works tirelessly to provide justice to victims of torture and organised violence who face persecution from the government due to their exercise of political and freedom of expression rights. 

Marange pursues compensation from the government for cases of torture and other injustices. To date, he has initiated over 100 cases in the High Court, resulting in 30 successful court orders for compensation.

In a country where democracy is waning and human rights defenders and political activists are often arrested for criticising government mismanagement and corruption, Marange provides crucial emergency legal assistance to individuals detained for unjust reasons. 

He has effectively secured the release of over 200 people from police cells and detention facilities.

Furthermore, Marange utilises litigation to drive systemic changes in laws that promote human rights. Among his notable cases, he successfully put an end to hazardous policing methods such as the use of spikes and canisters in public transport, which had resulted in casualties and injuries. 

His legal intervention led to the declaration of these practices as unlawful and their subsequent prohibition.

Additionally, Marange fought for equal rights, ensuring that fathers of children born out of wedlock can obtain birth certificates even when the mother is unavailable. 

His work has significantly impacted the promotion of human rights and challenging unjust practices in Zimbabwe.

This year, Marange secured a landmark ruling compelling the police to feed arrested accused individuals while in their custody and declared as unconstitutional the practice of withholding food from them.

Last year, he secured the first bail for Felix Biri, one of the 16 CCC activists arrested over the 14 June 2022 Nyatsime violence.  Biri had languished in remand prison alongside 15 other co-accused including MPs Godfrey Sithole and Job Sikhala, who has spent over 580 days in pre-trial detention. 

He also successfully obtained a judgment that compels the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to craft the code of conduct for Vice-Presidents, Cabinet ministers and their deputies.

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