Thursday, 21 May 2020

LAWYERS PETITION MATANGA OVER TORTURED ACTIVISTS PICS


ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) executive director Roselyn Hanzi has petitioned police commissioner general Godwin Matanga to investigate the circumstances surrounding the leaking of pictures of a female MDC official, who was part of the three who were recently allegedly abducted and tortured.

In the letter dated May 19, 2020 referenced “Unlawful publication/circulation of sensitive and confidential photographs of Cecilia Chimbiri by a forensic police officer and notice of intention to sue in terms of the State Liabilities Act”, Hanzi said the release of the photographs invaded her clients’ privacy.

Chimbiri, who is the MDC’s Youth Assembly vice chairperson, was allegedly abducted together with Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe and party youth deputy organising secretary, Netsai Marova, soon after staging a demonstration in Warren Park, Harare. 

Hanzi said on May 15, while the women were in hospital, a female police officer only identified as Chief Superintendent Philip, visited them in the company of a medical doctor. 

The police officer reportedly asked the women to remove their clothes and took pictures of their bodies. The women complied in the belief that the photographs were to be used for investigation purposes. 

“However, on May 18, 2020, it was brought to our attention that our clients’ sensitive photographs captured by Philip…, are now circulating on various social media platforms. This is not only deplorable, but unbecoming,” Hanzi said.

 She said she had confirmed with her clients that the photographs which were taken by Philip were the same images which were circulating on social media. 

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned at this gross breach of confidentiality and severe violation of the rights to dignity and privacy of our client as enshrined in Section 51 and Section 57 of the Constitution respectively.

“We are also instructed to remind you, as we hereby do, that Zimbabwe is a State party to several human rights instructions that enjoin the government to ensure everyone, including victims of crimes, are afforded equal protection of the law, have their right to privacy and right to dignity,” she said. 

She added that the dissemination of the photographs was in direct violation of the 2012 guidelines on the Protocol on Multi-Sectoral Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence in Zimbabwe, which the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is a signatory to. 

“It is clear from the malicious publication of our clients’ sensitive photographs that their privacy, honour and reputation have been attacked. 

“Our client, Cecilia Chimbiri, is a woman in Zimbabwean politics and is well-known to the general public and this will impact negatively on her standing in society,” she said. 

She demanded a full investigation to ascertain the circumstances under which the photographs were disseminated and to take appropriate action against Philip and all those who were involved. 

“We further advise that we will not hesitate to invoke all constitutional and legal remedies available to our client, including suing all police officers, as well as the command structure involved in the violation of our client’s rights.
  
“Further be advised that we will be taking legal action against all those responsible in their individual capacities for damages,” she said.

Police were yet to respond to the demand. Daily News

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