via Challenging times for NGOs ahead as Chikomo’s trial commences | The Zimbabwean by ZLHR 14.09.13
THE trial of Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum for allegedly running an “unregistered” organisation commences on Monday 16 September 2013, in yet another official harassment of civic organisations and human rights defenders.
Chikomo, whose trial was initially set to commence early last month will appear in court 5 at Harare Magistrates Court building after prosecutors served some of the State papers to the human rights campaigner’s lawyer, Selby Hwacha, who is a board member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Prosecutors claim that Chikomo contravened Section 6 (3) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act Chapter 17:15 after he allegedly conducted some activities without being registered with the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
The charge, which he denies, came after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a non-governmental umbrella organisation conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
The State says this was illegal since the organisation is not registered as a PVO. The State claims that he unlawfully instructed two of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s employees to commence or carry out a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the intention to obtain people’s recommendations on the preferred transitional justice mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organization registering with the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
Last year, Chikomo’s trial on the same charges, which first arose in February 2011, was shelved after State prosecutor Innocent Chingarande withdrew summons issued against him as the State was not ready to proceed with the matter.
Over the past two years Chikomo has been interrogated and asked to report to the police station on several occasions on the activities carried out by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.