Freedom Under Law (FUL) welcomes the recently released decision of the African Commission in the torture case brought against the government of Zimbabwe by Advocate Gabriel Shumba. Mr Shumba, at the time acting as a lawyer for his clients, was arrested by the Zimbabwean authorities in 2003 and took his case to the African Commission the following year. The Commission has not only found that he was in fact severely tortured but has recommended that the Zimbabwean government pay compensation to Mr Shumba and open an official investigation to bring those responsible to justice.
While welcoming this ground-breaking ruling of the most important human rights body in Africa, FUL reiterates its concern for the safety of its Board member Beatrice Mtetwa, at present in custody in Harare’s Chikurubi Prison. Ms Mtetwa, like Mr Shumba a Zimbabwean human-rights lawyer who was interceding on behalf of clients, was arrested a week ago, on Sunday 17 March. Despite a High Court order the authorities refused to release her and later a magistrate denied bail. She has been remanded in custody for trial on 3 April on a charge of obstructing the course of justice. This Monday, 25 March, Ms Mtetwa will appeal in the Harare High Court against the refusal of bail. FUL intends to be represented at this hearing by an observer and will likewise take an interest in the trial, should it eventuate.