Thursday, 6 October 2016

Zimbabwe court upholds Harare protest ban despite 'right to protest'

A High Court in Zimbabwe on Tuesday upheld a
month-long police ban on protests in the capital,
The protest ban was on the grounds that
it was necessary to preserve peace, a lawyer
representing opposition activists said.
The police in the past three months have clashed
with different categories of protesters in the
southern African nation where political tension is
rising. Anti-government protests have been
rampant in the months leading to the police ban.
Police announced ban on public demonstrations
until Oct. 15 following anti-government protests
that led to violent clashes with police. The
president, Robert Mugabe, had chastised the
judiciary for allowing violent protests to go on in
the country.
Tendai Biti, a former finance minister and
prominent lawyer, said Judge President George
Chiweshe had in his ruling dismissed the
application to overturn the police ban.
Biti said the judge, while accepting that the law
used by the police violated individual rights
allowing peaceful demonstrations, it was
nonetheless justified in order to protect property
and ensure public peace.
“The court’s rationale is that while the section of
the law that allows police to ban protests was in
breach of fundamental rights, it was justifiable in
a democratic society,” Biti said.
In early September, a High Court judge struck
down a previous ban on public protests, saying
police did not follow procedure and had violated
the constitution.
Biti disclosed that he would meet other human
rights lawyers on Wednesday to decide whether
to appeal the court’s ruling at the Supreme Court
or launch a challenge at the Constitutional Court.
Angered by a jobless rate above 80 percent,
corruption and the worst fiscal crunch and cash
shortages since the adoption of the U.S. dollar in
2009, many Zimbabweans have taken to social
media to organise anti-government activities.