Zimbabwe high court dismisses charges against rights activist Mukoko

Zimbabwe high court dismisses charges against rights activist Mukoko

[JURIST] Zimbabwe's Supreme Court dismissed charges Monday against ten people, including rights activist Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], who had been charged with conspiring against President Robert Mugabe [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The court held that Mukoko, who is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) [advocacy website], was tortured by security forces [BBC report] and denied access to legal and medical assistance [Zimbabwe Times report] in violation of her constitutional rights. The court ruled [Zimbabwean report] that since Mukoko's rights were violated, she cannot be tried in connection with the crimes for which she was held. The judge said that the full judgment will be made available at a later date.

In May, Mukoko was released on bail, one day after a court forced her back into custody after ruling she had been improperly released on bail [JURIST reports] in March. Mukoko was held without charges from December through March. Mukoko was hospitalized [Zimbabwe Times report] for the treatment of injuries sustained during her detention and remained under medical care after her release from police custody. While in prison, it was reported that Mukoko was forced to ingest poison [JURIST report], an allegation that sparked a world-wide protest against Zimbabwean police methods. During her detention, Mukoko was denied bail [JURIST report] by Zimbabwean lower courts, but another court ruled that Mukoko could appeal her detention [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe under the Zimbabwe Constitution [text, PDF].