Common law set 1 Pump Court has kick-started a campaign by UK lawyers to save Zimbabwe’s rule of law after one of the country’s barristers was abducted and beaten by the country’s police.
The set has written to the Zimbabwean High Commission calling for its country to uphold the rule of law.
The UK legal profession’s representative bodies have backed the call, with the president of the Law Society Fiona Woolf lobbying the Zimbabwe government to uphold its obligation under international law to protect the rights of lawyers, including those engaged in the promotion of human rights.
Door tenant at 1 Pump Court Beatrice Mtetwa was among 60 lawyers who last month held a demonstration protesting against the arrest of lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, who have been challenging the detention of public figures opposed to Robert Mugabe.
Mtetwa, who is also the president of the Zimbabwe Law Society, and four other lawyers were forced into a police truck while still wearing their robes, driven to the outskirts of capital city Harare and beaten with truncheons.
Nik Nicol, chair of the chambers’ executive committee, said that Mtetwa has defended human rights at grave risk to her own life and liberty and that “we all owe it to her to ensure that she and other lawyers in Zimbabwe are free to represent their clients and express their views without fear of reprisals from the state”.
Nicol added: “The rule of law is clearly under threat if lawyers seeking to uphold it cannot practice their profession and speak out without fear of imprisonment, injury or worse.”