News24 | Freedom Under Law wants LPC to publicly condemn arrest of Zimbabwean human rights lawyers

Lawyers Tapiwa Muchineripi and Douglas Coltart were arrested in Harare on Monday evening.

Lawyers Tapiwa Muchineripi and Douglas Coltart were arrested in Harare on Monday evening.


  • Freedom Under Law wants the Legal Practice Council to publicly condemn the arrests of Zimbabwean human rights lawyers.
  • Douglas Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi were arrested on Monday for preventing police from questioning their clients who are members of the official opposition.
  • Freedom Under Law said their arrests constituted a violation of a UN Human Rights Council Resolution which upholds the rights of lawyers to practice freely without fear of reprisal.

Freedom Under Law (FUL) has written to the Legal Practice Council (LPC) asking it to condemn the arrests of two Zimbabwean human rights lawyers. 

In the letter, the FUL said the arrests of Douglas Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi earlier this week threatened lawyers for doing their jobs and undermined the rule of law. 

Coltart and Muchineripi were arrested at a Harare hospital on Monday and appeared in court the following day before the court released them on bail of R1 900 each.

They faced charges of obstructing justice by preventing police from questioning their clients, Womberaishe Nhende and Sanele Mkhulhani. 

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Nhende and Mkhulhani are members of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC).

They were allegedly abducted and tortured on Saturday. 

In a statement, the FUL said: 

The role of the legal profession is vital to the rule of law. Lawyers must be free to represent their clients independently and fearlessly without being subjected to intimidation and interference in their work. We strongly condemn any attempts to undermine the ability of the arrested lawyers to represent their clients as an attack on the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

It added the LPC’s voice in the matter would carry weight because it was one of the significant players in the legal field in the SADC region.

In the letter, the FUL said the arrests violated UN Human Rights Council Resolution 44/8 of 14 July 2020, which emphasised the rights of lawyers to practice freely without fear of reprisal.

It added article 9 of the resolution stated the responsibility of governments to uphold the integrity of lawyers and to protect them against violence, threat, and retaliation, among others, emanating from lawyers doing their work. 

LPC spokesperson Kabelo Letebele told News24 it had received the FUL’s letter.

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Its chairperson, Janine Myburgh, said the council condemned the intimidation of lawyers. 

“The LPC condemns all actions that are aimed at intimidating and stopping legal practitioners from doing their work of protecting people’s rights and fighting for justice.”

Myburgh added the impact of arresting lawyers trickled into society. 

“Lawyers are there to assist and protect society, especially marginalised members of our communities, ensuring they have access to justice – intimidation of lawyers in any country affects the fabric of society,” she said. 

News24 South Africa