The president and executive secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) have been remanded on bail after they were arrested and detained for 48 hours last week for allegedly possessing 'subversive' documents
It is likely the arrests are directly related to the strong stance taken by the Law Society against President Robert Mugabe and his government on issues relating to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. "Following their attacks on the judiciary and the media, the government is looking to target lawyers," said Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association. Appearing before the magistrates court on Friday, LSZ president Sternford Moyo and executive secretary Wilbert Mapombere were remanded until 1 August on bail of Z$20,000 (£256) each. They have also had their passports confiscated. The pair were arrested on 3 June for allegedly writing two letters, one to the British High Commission and the other to opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) inciting subversion against the government. It is also alleged that they organised secret meetings between opposition parties in the build up to the election. Joseph Mafusire, a partner at Harare firm Scanlen and Holderness and one of the lawyers acting on behalf of the pair, described the case as "patently defective and flimsy". The letters, he said, were obvious forgeries. There are also concerns that the treatment of the pair while in custody contravened the most basic human rights. During the first 48 hours they were not allowed access to their lawyers, were given no food and were not allowed to wash. Moyo and Mapombere were arrested under the new Public Order and Security Act (POSA). This controversial piece of legislation was introduced just prior to the elections with the Access to Information & Protection Act and the Electoral Act - all of which have been used to muzzle the judiciary, the press, and now lawyers. "The POSA is without basis in international law or under Zimbabwe's own constitution," said Ellis.