Statement on the denial of bail for Chin’ono, Ngarivhume, and Kurauone
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is concerned with the continued persecution and detainment of Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono which does not conform to the constitutional provisions of the Right to Liberty and freedom of expression.
The arrest and prosecution of Hopewell followed after he expressed concern about the issues of corruption in our country. The journalist, through his social media, supported an organized, peaceful demonstration against corruption. An exercise of guaranteed rights, section 60 (1) of the constitution provides for the freedom of conscience. It gives freedom to propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion, or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others.”
On the 6th of August, Journalist Chin’ono charged with inciting violence was denied bail by High Court Judge, Tawanda Chitapi. He has been in remand prison for over two weeks since arrest at his home on the 20th of July. Magistrate Ngoni Nduna previously denied him bail on the 24th of July, which prompted him to file an appeal with the High Court of Zimbabwe. In his ruling, Chitapi said the appellant had failed to demonstrate that Nduna had erred in his judgment; therefore, he could not interfere with Nduna’s ruling.
ZimRights maintains that Chin’ono did not commit any crime by inciting Zimbabweans to demonstrate. If he did, bail is a fundamental right as enshrined in section 49 of the constitution that states every person has a right to liberty. Section 49 (1)(b) states that the right to liberty includes not to be deprived of their liberty arbitrarily or without a just cause. Section 50 Rights of the arrested and detained persons (1)(d) states that they must be released unconditionally or on reasonable conditions, pending a charge or trial, unless compelling reasons are justifying further detention. The courts have not given compelling reasons on why Chin’ono should continue in detention.
ZimRights, therefore calls on Zimbabwe and the criminal justice system to guarantee Zimbabweans the right of personal liberty by ensuring that bail granting is not politicized and that cases are heard timeously. Constitutional rights are guaranteed; they must be denied on technicalities.