Amnesty International Says Ngarivhume's Conviction Should Be Quashed
Amnesty International (AI) has urged Zimbabwean authorities to revoke the conviction and sentencing of opposition leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, to 48 months imprisonment on charges of inciting public violence.
Ngarivhume was on Friday sentenced to four years in jail following his conviction the previous day of public violence incitement charges by Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka. However, 12 months were conditionally suspended.
Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Director in Southern Africa said Ngarivhume was simply exercising his freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Chikwanda said Ngarivhume’s conviction demonstrates a growing crackdown against opposition voices and dissent by Zimbabwean authorities. Said Chikwanda:
Jacob Ngarivhume faces four years in prison, of which a year is suspended, for organizing and leading a peaceful protest in July 2020 against corruption and denial of socio-economic rights to the people of Zimbabwe.
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It is unthinkable that Jacob Ngarivhume has been sent to prison for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Authorities must quash this sentence. Ngarivhume’s sentencing is a cynical ploy to suppress dissent and it is an abuse of the justice system to intimidate and harass opposition voices.
Jacob Ngarivhume’s conviction and sentencing show a growing crackdown on opposition leaders, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other critical dissenting voices through abuse of the legal system.
Authorities must stop weaponizing the law to target opposition figures or anyone who speaks out against corruption.
Ngarivhume, a former MDC Alliance principal, was arrested after leading and organising the 31 July 2020 anti-corruption protests.
He was accused of inciting public violence by using his Twitter handle to convene the 31 July 2020 nationwide anti-corruption protests which were suppressed by security forces.
Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka convicted Ngarivhume on Thursday, 27 April 2023.
He was sentenced on Friday, 28 April to 48 months imprisonment, with 12 months suspended.
Ngarivhume will effectively serve 36 months in prison without the option of a fine.
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