Zim lawyers want AG to resign over Mukoko

2009-10-02 13:32

ZIMBABWE lawyers are calling for the resignation of controversial

Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

This follows a Supreme Court ruling this week that human rights

activist Jestina Mukoko had her constitutional rights trampled upon by the

country’s police and security services with the collusion of the prosecutorial

authorities.

Irene Petras, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

(ZLHR) told journalists at a press briefing in Harare yesterday that while her

organization welcomed the ‘landmark’ Supreme Court ruling, it was deeply

regrettable that the matter had to go that far and those responsible for

Mukoko’s suffering should be called to account.

“We are of the reasoned belief that the prosecutorial authorities

in this matter failed to perform their duties, and that they bear and must

accept responsibility for the manner in which this case was handled.

“In any democratic society, such untenable failures would lead to

the head of the affected institution – in this case the Attorney General –

resigning his or her position. At the very least, we would expect, in a

democratic society, to see such pubic official publicly accepting responsibility

for the professional and ethical failures of those who prosecute on his or her

behalf,” Petras said.

Harrison Nkomo, one of Mukoko’s attorneys, said processes had begun

to seek restitution for the suffering that Mukoko and 30 other human rights and

political activists endured during their abduction, illegal detention and

torture.

Mukoko, the director of Zimbabwe Peace Project, was abducted from

her home by secret state agents who raided her home in the middle of the night

in December last year.

At least 30 other activists including Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai’s party officials were similarly abducted and disappeared without

trace for over three weeks.

When, after weeks of futile search, Mukoko finally emerged at a

police station in Harare, Attorney General Tomana described her as ‘a very

dangerous person to the country”.

Mukoko and her co-accused were dragged to the courts to face

charges bordering on treason, but their lawyers appealed to the highest court in

the land for a stay of prosecution citing gross violation of their rights prior

to their appearance in court.

The landmark ruling in their favour was delivered by Chief Justice

Godfrey Chidyausiku sitting with the full bench of the Supreme Court on

Monday.

“Immediate and concerted action should also be taken to investigate

and prosecute the perpetrators of the violations (against Mukoko and others).

This would also assist in restoring pubic confidence in the justice delivery

system,” Zimbabwean lawyers said in a statement.

Tsvangirai’s MDC party want Tomana removed from office because he

has made public his unwavering allegiance to Mugabe and has acted in open bias

towards the Zanu PF party.

Mugabe has, however, declared Tomana will not go and the matter,

which includes another controversial Mugabe ally Reserve Bank governor Gideon

Gono, is set to be central in negotiations between the political principals next

Monday.


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