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Charter must abolish unlawful arrests

Stakeholders involved in the making of a new constitution must ensure that it contains watertight provisions that outlaw arbitrary and malicious arrest of innocent civilians.

Over the years, arbitrary arrests have been used by the government and individuals to settle scores.

People have been arrested and detained as a way of fixing them for a variety of reasons.

Featuring prominently among victims were political opponents of Zanu PF.

In the last 12 years, hundreds, if not thousands, of MDC members and supporters have been thrown into jail as a way of punishing them and deterring them from opposing Zanu PF rule.

Similarly, scores of journalists have been arrested on spurious grounds, with the police sometimes using sections of the law that have been judged unconstitutional.

In a number of instances, victims have spent a long time in either police cells or remand prisons.

This is what happened to the likes of Jestina Mukoko, a human rights activist whom the government deemed a threat.

Needless to say, the State has hardly won any of the cases relating to the arbitrary arrests.

Their objective has simply been to inflict as much harm as possible on perceived enemies so that in future, they would think twice before engaging in the so-called “acts of rebellion”.

The new constitution should make it clear that any individual judged to have executed an arrest for vindictive purposes, whether on an order from a superior or not, should individually be held accountable and face a jail term or the burden of compensation.

In the same vein, anyone giving an order for an arbitrary arrest should also be held accountable, while the government must be sued where it is proved that it acted negligently or maliciously.
The Suppressed

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