Zimbabwe court rules rights activist Mukoko may appeal to Supreme Court

Zimbabwe court rules rights activist Mukoko may appeal to Supreme Court

[JURIST] A Zimbabwe court ruled Friday that human rights activist and head of Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) [advocacy materials] Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website, JURIST news archive] can appeal her detention to the country's Supreme Court. Mukoko's claim that her detention violates her constitutional rights was allowed to go forward after Harare Magistrate Archie Wochiunga ruled [Herald report] that the state did not prove that her claim was frivilous and vexatious. Wochiunga held that the case was proper for referral under section 24 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe [text, PDF]. Mukoko is charged with plotting to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and has been held in prison since December, despite a court ruling [JURIST report] that her detention is unlawful.

Mukoko, an outspoken critic of Mugabe, 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. Earlier this month, a judge had ordered that Mukoko's trial be put on hold [JURIST report] in order for her to receive medical care. The case has gathered international attention, and both Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] have condemned Mukoko's imprisonment and called for her release [HRW press release; AI press release].