Zimbabwe: Additional charge against Pastor Mawarire a desperate ploy to keep him behind bars

The additional charge of “Insulting the Flag of Zimbabwe” slapped on Pastor Evan Mawarire this morning is a deliberate ploy to prolong his detention and block his human rights work, Amnesty International and CIVICUS said today.

The Pastor was due to appear in court this morning and make a bail application after being arrested yesterday on arrival at Harare International Airport and charged with subversion in relation to his peaceful human rights work.

The Zimbabwean authorities are using the oldest tricks in the book by misusing the criminal justice system to target Pastor Evan Mawarire.
Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa

He has committed no crime but to take a stand against human rights violations,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

The move by the authorities to add the charge appears to be intended to delay the presentation of Pastor Mawarire before a court, in contravention of the Constitutional provision that requires that all detainees appear before court no later than 48 hours after the arrest.


“The charges against Pastor Evan Mawarire are clearly politically motivated and designed to intimidate and harass him. He must be immediately and unconditionally released. He is the victim of a government bent on criminalizing dissenting voices.” said Sara Brandt, Policy and Research Analyst, CIVICUS.

The charges against Pastor Evan Mawarire are clearly politically motivated and designed to intimidate and harass him.
Sara Brandt, Policy and Research Analyst, CIVICUS.

Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested on 1 February 2017 at Harare International Airport as he returned to the country after being forced to flee to the USA. He is being held at Harare Central Police Station.

Background

Pastor Evan Mawarire, founder and one of the leaders of the #Thisflag movement, led several anti-government protests in 2016 against corruption, human rights violations and the declining economy in the country.

He was previously arrested on 12 July 2016 and charged with incitement to commit public violence after leading a national shutdown between 13 and 14 July 2016. He was released after a magistrate found his arrest to be unconstitutional and dropped the charge against him.