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Zimbabwe Lawyers Protest Harassment

Zimbabwe Lawyers Protest Harassment
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The Law Society of Zimbabwe on Monday petitioned the Minister of Justice to stop harassing its members. The lawyers say law enforcement agents are harassing them for carrying out their duties.

At least 70 lawyers braved a lunchtime downpour to march from the High Court to the Minister of Justice's offices in downtown Harare. Although they say they had informed the minister to expect them, minister Patrick Chinamasa was not in his office to receive their petition.

Law Society spokesman Chris Mhike addressed his colleagues as he emerged from the minister's office.

"We are not happy that the minister is not available to attend to our issues. However because our petition has been received, that gives us consolation because he will be aware of the issues that we have raised," he said.

The issues Mhike referred to include the harassment, arrest and detention of lawyers, for what the lawyers say is simply carrying out their professional duties. Their petition cites the arrest of four lawyers this year and the harassment of others. The petition says all this is unconstitutional. In addition, it says, the government is contravening international agreements that are meant to protect lawyers as they carry out their duties.

The lawyers called for among other things, the resignation of attorney general Johannes Tomana who is seen as being behind their harassment. Their petition also urges the government to have all law enforcement agents who interfere with lawyers' work prosecuted.

Earlier in the day the lawyers were at Harare magistrates court where lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly obstructing the course of justice appeared before a magistrate for a remand hearing.