ZimRights Condemns the Attempted Assassination of Human Rights Lawyer Obey Shava

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Press Release

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has learnt with great shock of the ruthless attack on Mr Obey Shava, a human rights lawyer representing opposition legislator Joana Mamombe and political activist Cecilia Chimbiri.

In the evening of Wednesday 5 July 2023, Mr. Obey Shava was attacked outside Selborne Routledge Primary School in Harare shortly after 7pm. Witnesses reported that Shava was attacked by at least four men driving in a green Mercedes Benz sedan and a Toyota GD6. Mr. Shava was taken to a medical facility for treatment.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reports that in the early morning hours of 6 July 2023, some unknown men wanted to access him at the medical facility where he was receiving treatment.

The attack on Mr. Shava is coming at a time when Zimbabwe is preparing for 23 August 2023 general elections. Zimbabwe has a history of organized violence and torture dating back to the pre-colonial era. In recent times, incidences of politically motivated violence are known to increase during election times.

This year, ZimRights has noted the increase in human rights violations as Zimbabwe draws closer to elections. In the month of May 2023, human rights groups have verified human rights violations affecting 1602 people. These violations include beatings, threats of violence and restrictions of freedom of assembly and association.

ZimRights condemns this attack on Mr. Shava and calls on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to investigate and bring the perpetrators to account. The attack on Mr. Shava is a violation of his right to human dignity and personal security as protected by section 51 and 52 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

It is most probable that Mr. Shava was targeted in his capacity as a human rights defender as this attack happened a day after the acquittal by the High Court of Zimbabwe of his clients opposition legislator Joana Mamombe and political activist Cecilia Chimbiri on trumped up charges of falsifying abduction.

As such, this attack is not only in violation of Zimbabwe’s own constitution but is also a violation of Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations specifically the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the UN Convention Agains torture as well as the UN Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. In this regard, ZimRights calls for the following:

  • Zimbabwean authorities must ensure a swift investigation on the attack on Mr. Shava.
  • The perpetrators of this heinous crimes must be brought to book and face justice.
  • The security of human rights defenders must be guaranteed in Zimbabwe especially ahead of the 2023 general elections when many victims dependon the support from human rights defenders.
  • The Zimbabwean authorities must ensure that the upcoming general elections are held in an
    atmosphere that promotes free assembly, association, and expression for the people of Zimbabwe.

ZimRights wishes Mr. Obey Shava a speedy recovery.

Issued by the ZimRights

Information Department