from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE barring of a human rights lawyer from representing a jailed journalist is the latest blow to the Zimbabwean scribe’s frustrating bid for freedom.
Beatrice Mtetwa, the rights advocate, has been barred from representing journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who is accused of inciting Zimbabweans to protest against the government on July 31.
Government forces quashed the protests, with scores of activists arrested.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) decried the government’s barring of the award-winning Mtetwa from representing Chin’ono.
Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, said Magistrate Ngoni Nduna’s decision to disqualify Mtetwa from representing Chin’ono had stripped the journalist of his constitutional right to a lawyer of his choice.
This has been denounced as a breach of his constitutional rights to a free trial and the African Charter to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
“The ruling shows how Zimbabwe’s courts are being abused for a political agenda,” Quintal said.
“We hope that a higher court will reverse this travesty on appeal and ensure that Chin’ono will be guaranteed a fair trial.”
The lawyer has been barred from representing the journalist after she allegedly was in contempt of court in relation to her Facebook posts.
Mtetwa has denied making the comments, arguing she was not responsible for the said Facebook page.
Zimbabwe has come under harsh criticism globally for its brutal response to protests demanding economic and political reforms.
– CAJ News