High Court Frees Human Rights Defenders

Two of the seven human rights defenders charged with plotting to subvert a constitutional government, Stabile Dewa and Rita Nyamupinga were today released on RTGS$1000 bail at the Harare High court after spending more than two weeks at Chikurubi Remand Prison.

High court Judge Justice Army Tsanga ordered for the release of the two activists seized at the Robert Mugabe International Airport upon arrival from the Maldives.

The State alleges that they have been receiving training on how to subvert a constitutionally elected government.

The state is alleging that the accused are members of the civil society organizations who connived with their accomplices went to Maldives where they underwent a training workshop by a Serbian non-governmental organisation called Center for Applied Non-Violent Action Strategies (Canvas) with intend to subvert a constitutionally elected government.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda told media: “We welcome the court’s decision in releasing the human rights campaigners. They did not deserve to have been in prison in the first place,” he said.

Mafunda said they were released on RTGS$1,000 bail each and that the court imposed “onerous conditions” on the activists, including having to report to a police station every day.

Their five co-accused were released on bail on last Friday.

Their arrests came after state-owned newspaper The Herald ran a story saying that “a group of shady organisations with links to the (main opposition) MDC-Alliance has been hard at work laying the groundwork for civil unrest”.

Police say the activists attended a workshop in the Maldives conducted by a non-profit Serbian organisation, the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).

Mnangagwa warned that the authorities would target rights groups deemed to be anti-government.

The authorities blamed the protests on the MDC party and non-governmental organisations that they said were backed by Western nations.

Zimbabwe’s police and army have often used brutal force, including the use of live ammunition, to crush dissent.

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