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Supreme Court verdict quashes case against human rights activist

(MISA/IFEX) - On 28 September 2009, the Supreme Court upheld an application by Jestina Mukoko, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) news reader and director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, in which she argued that her constitutional rights to liberty, full protection of the law and freedom from torture had been infringed.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting with Justice Paddington Garwe and Justice Luke Malaba, also ordered a permanent stay of prosecution in the criminal case against Mukoko. The constitutional application was initially heard on 25 June 2009.

The verdict essentially quashes the case against Mukoko, in which she was being charged with banditry, sabotage and terrorism in terms of section 23 (1) (a) (i) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9: 23. The Chief Justice said the full bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously concluded that the state, through its agents, had violated the applicant's rights under sections 13(1), 15(1) and 18(1) of the Constitution. These sections guarantee the rights to liberty, freedom from torture and full protection of the law.

Following the finding, he ruled that Mukoko's application to the Supreme Court allowed her to also apply for a permanent stay of prosecution in respect of any proceedings arising from the same matter, as well as in the criminal proceedings against her, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana and eight others with whom she was charged.

The Chief Justice said the full judgment would be made available later.


BACKGROUND:

Mukoko was abducted from her home in Norton, on the outskirts of Harare, on 3 December 2008. Her whereabouts remained unknown until her appearance in court on 24 December 2008 on charges of sabotage, banditry and terrorism. She was in custody until being granted bail on 2 March 2009, after 92-days in detention. The bail was later revoked by Harare magistrate Catherine Chimanda and again reinstated on 6 May 2009.

Until her vindication on 28 September 2009, Mukoko had mounted a protracted legal battle to secure her freedom through several applications with the Magistrates, High and Supreme Courts.

Latest Tweet:

#Bahrain Profiles in Persecution: Jaafar Maki Husain https://t.co/qHJWN7ZpfD @ADHRB

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