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Zimbabwe rights group condemns treatment of imprisoned activists

[JURIST] Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) [official website] on Tuesday announced the release of a revealing and in depth report detailing how lawyers and justice officials within Zimbabwe have allowed the illegal detention and abuse [AllAfrica news] of several political activists. The report points to specific incidents where lawyers for the activists were denied access to their clients and also provides evidence that many of those jailed have been tortured. Although a judge last month ordered the release or transfer of all of the activists based upon these charges of alleged abuse, the state-run law enforcement has yet to act on this judicial mandate. In a related development, seven opposition party members were charged [AP report] Wednesday for allegedly participating in the bombing of a police station Harare, an attack that many believe was perpetrated by the police themselves. The suspects pleaded not guilty.

Among the detainees who have allegedly been abused is Jestina Mukoko, [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project [advocacy materials]. Mukoko, an outspoken critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was apprehended from her home last month and held in an undisclosed location for several weeks because of her alleged involvement in Mugabe's opposition. While in prison, it was reported that Mukoko was forced to ingest poison [JURIST report], an allegation that has sparked a world wide protest against Zimbabwean police methods. On Monday, a judge ordered that Mukoko's trial be put on hold [JURIST report] until she receives medical care.

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