Zim judges under fire for contravening UN rules

via Zim judges under fire for contravening UN rules | SW Radio Africa By Alex Bell

Zimbabwe’s judges, notoriously aligned to the Robert Mugabe regime, are under fire for contravening international principles that protect the legal profession, by targeting human rights lawyers.

Nicole Fritz, the Director of the Southern African Litigation Centre, said that recommendations by High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu, that lawyers representing MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai be arrested, are “outrageous.”

Bhunu called for the lawyers to be arrested over statements in Tsvangirai’s High Court application that the “judiciary is not independent from the executive, and politically, from ZANU PF.” Tsvangirai’s application, made in an attempt to secure information from the Electoral Commission, also included the claim that Mugabe appointed numerous judges without consulting him while he was Prime Minister, in violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

According to Judge Bhunu, these statements amount to an attack on the dignity and integrity of the judiciary.

“It is ironic that Judge Bhunu makes an outrageous punitive order, directed at the lawyers ostensibly to protect the integrity of the judiciary, when there can be no surer way of bringing the courts into disrepute than by having a judge issue orders in clear contravention of the uniformly recognised and upheld principles protecting the legal profession,” Fritz said in an opinion piece published on Thursday.

She explained that the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers stipulate that “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.” Furthermore, “lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court.”

Fritz said that the calls for the lawyers to be arrested demonstrates that “the elections herald no change, that a culture of repression and authoritarianism is set to continue, and that despite token espousal of the rule of law there will be no meaningful implementation of such an order.”

Fritz went on to accuse Bhunu of using apartheid style legislation to secure the mass detention and criminal charge of a group of MDC-T activists in 2011. The 29 activists have all been charged in connection with the death of police inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View in 2011.

According to Fritz, the prosecution in the case “relies on the controversial doctrine of ‘common purpose’ to impute liability to the activists – a doctrine that became notorious in apartheid South Africa for its use in targeting persons and groups opposing apartheid.”


  • comment-avatar
    Naison Nyereyegona 11 years ago

    This Nicole

    This Nicole Fritz menece should be fired from the position she holds. Only a few months ago we saw how she tried in vein to resurrect the defunct SADC Tribunal and now we see her attacking the noble judiciary in Zimbabwe. Why is she not attacking the apartheid judiciary in South Africa which sentenced to prison, those who peacefully demonstrated against slave wages at Maricana mine instead of the police who murdered in cold blood, scores of striking mine workers. The judiciary in South Africa is rotten to the core and should be disbanded. She says nothing of course, about that judiciary but strangely enough, has a lot to say about our fair judges. She should be fired and the sooner the better.

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      Naison, Nicole Fritz has made valid points, please lay out your contending arguments if you feel that she has misrepresented the facts as they stand.
      To add my two cents- Our Judiciary is anything but noble. The South African Judiciary has better mechanisms to deliver fair judgement because there is a conserted effort to maintain a clear seperation of powers between the executive and the judiciary. In Zimbabwe you can barely see the distinction as the Judiciary sadly plays to the tune of the executive; and of course the executive always is the unseen hand determining the end-game in the delivery of justice. Need I remind you of the quashed investigations against NIEEB and the controversial arrest of Beatrice Mutetwa and the resultant obvious persecution/chastisement of Justice Hungwe who seemingly went against the ‘executive current’ in relation to these cases. And of course now you have Judge Bhunu (unsurprisingly) baying for the culling Tsvangirai’s lawyers. Noble? Certainly not.

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    mutongi gava 11 years ago

    hezvo Bhunu ,uriri bhunu chairo nhai.hapana chisinga mhari

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    The SADC should be resurrected as quickly as possible. Southern Africans need protection from the ignoble judges of Zimbabwe and any other country for that matter. For you to imply that there is something wrong with someone who seeks to deliver equal justice to all, just proves that you are as bad as Bhunu in your thinking.

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    Sorry, I meant the SADC Tribunal should be resurrected as soon as possible.

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    Chiwaridzo 11 years ago

    The SADC Tribunal is imperative and needs to be reinstated with out delay, the disbanning of the tribunal in the first place was a violation of the SADC charter and a clear message to the ordinary citizens of SADC that they live under oppressive regimes.

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    There is nothing to expect from SADC ladies and gentlemen. That is a sad fact. The citizens of Southern Africa should just come together under a new regional non governmental organization and work to liberate Southern Africa from the tyrants and corrupt people. Proper definitions of freedom and democracy must be made as opposed to the repressive ones of Maharaj and Mugabe based on “historical links”

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    True DL some people doesn’t seem to use their common sense when they start making a comment.what was fair in Zimbabwe ?believe me that person he doesn’t own anything I mean even a cat to lick their feet thieves.

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    Marange son 11 years ago

    Bhunu is not a judge per say and does not pretend to be one. he is part of a Mafia gang ruling Zimbabwe today.