UN Expert Urges Zimbabwean Authorities To End "Lawfare" Against Masaraure

1 year agoThu, 25 May 2023 12:07:31 GMT
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UN Expert Urges Zimbabwean Authorities To End "Lawfare" Against Masaraure

A United Nations (UN) expert on Wednesday expressed concern about the ongoing legal proceedings against human rights defender Obert Masaraure in Zimbabwe.

Masaraure is the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) spokesperson.

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor called for the charges against Masaraure to be dropped.

She also urged Zimbabwean authorities to put an end to the pattern of criminalisation of education and labour rights defenders. Said Lawlor:

Mr Obert Masaraure has long been targeted in reprisal for his peaceful work in defence of the labour rights of teachers, educators, and all those who seek to uphold the fundamental right to education in Zimbabwe.

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Masaraure was first charged in 2019 with “subverting a constitutionally elected government and inciting public violence”.

Since January 2022, Masaraure has faced multiple arrests and charges, including participation in a protest, alleged murder, and public incitement to violence, while being released on strict bail conditions, said the UN expert.

After several postponements, Masaraure is due to stand trial on 29 May 2023 on charges related to national security, including public incitement to violence and obstruction of justice.

A hearing on the murder charge is scheduled for 31 May 2023. Said Lawlor:

Since I took office in 2020, I have heard numerous allegations of arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force and ill-treatment by police officers against human rights defenders working to protect labour rights.

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern that such targeting may be an attempt by Zimbabwean authorities to deter others from standing up and peacefully assembling for the right to education in the country.

The UN expert has raised her concerns with the Government of Zimbabwe and will continue to monitor the situation.

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