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FLD Update: Zimbabwe – Pastor Evan Mawarire arrested upon arrival in Zimbabwe


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2 February 2017

Update: Zimbabwe – Pastor Evan Mawarire arrested upon arrival in Zimbabwe

On 1 February 2017, Mr Evan Mawarire was arrested upon his arrival at Harare International Airport. He is being detained at Harare Central Police Station.

Evan Mawarire is a pastor and human rights defender who released a video using the Zimbabwean flag as a metaphor for the deteriorating civil, political, social and economic situation in Zimbabwe on 19 April 2016. The video describes how Zimbabweans can enact positive changes to improve their human rights situation and to implement good governance. The video catalyzed the #ThisFlag movement and sparked widespread protests throughout 2016 that called for democracy and for the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

Lawyers for Evan Mawarire report that he is being charged under Chapter III of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act of 2004 for “subverting constitutional government”. He was arrested immediately upon his arrival at the airport on 1 February 2017, after spending approximately six months in the US. Evan Mawarire fled Zimbabwe in mid-July 2016 following the #ThisFlag and #ShutDownZim protests. He encouraged the protest as a means to resist what he saw as a lack of democracy and transparency in the government.

At 9 am on 12 July 2016, Evan Mawarire went to Harare Central Police Station at the request of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) where he was questioned about his human rights work. He was detained and charged with “incitement to commit public violence” under section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Later the same day, a search warrant was issued by the Senior Magistrate at the Judicial Service Commission to search Evan Mawarire’s home, church offices and any person on the property for a stolen police helmet, baton stick and any subversive material. According to reports, after completing their searches, the police forces had not found the objects listed on the search warrant.
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> On 13 July 2016 in Harare Magistrate Court, the charge against him was changed by the prosecution to “subverting a constitutionally elected government”, a crime that is required to be tried by the High Court under Zimbabwe Law. Later the same day, Evan Mawarire’s lawyers successfully argued that it was unconstitutional to change the charges against the defendant in the Court, without prior notification and the human rights defender on 13 July 2016.
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> Front Line Defenders believes that the re-arrest of Evan Mawarire is directly related to his work in the defence of human rights, and Front Line Defenders sees this as part of a larger pattern of harassment against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, especially those working against corruption and impunity and for good governance.

pdf icon Update_Mawarire_2_2_17_HRDS.pdf


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