Namibia’s LAC condemns Mtetwa’s arrest
The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) condemned the arrest of Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa on 17th March and called for her immediate release. “The LAC is appalled by her summary arrest in circumstances where she was rendering legal assistance to a client and calls for her immediate release,” LAC director Toni Hancox stated in a press release issued on 19th March.
Mtetwa was arrested in Harare with four officials of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – a day after Zimbabweans voted on a constitution. According to a BBC report, police charged Mtetwa with obstructing justice after she intervened on behalf of the four officials during a raid on MDC offices on 17th March. The four are charged with impersonating police officers.
Hancox said the LAC fully supported and associated itself with a statement issued by Freedom Under Law (FUL), which condemned the arrest of Mtetwa. She is a member of the FUL board of directors.
According to the FUL statement, Mtetwa was professionally engaged in giving legal assistance to a client targeted by Zimbabwean police when she herself was taken into custody. FUL said it was concerned for her safety now and is in the process of arranging competent legal representation for her.“Freedom Under Law calls for the immediate release of Beatrice Mtetwa, and the condemnation by other SADC governments of this retaliatory measure against one of Zimbabwe’s foremost human rights legal practitioners,” the statement said.
Mtetwa is a former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, director of the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa, and outspoken critic of executive excesses in Zimbabwe. Her work as a human rights lawyer has received international awards from the European Bar Human Rights Institute and the American Bar Association, among others.
(The Namibian, Windhoek)