RAPAPORT… Press Release: Amnesty International today called upon the government of Zimbabwe to release an activist, Farai Maguwu, who was detained after he exposed human rights violations in the country’s Marange diamond fields. The organization said it considers Maguwu a prisoner of conscience who is being persecuted for documenting abuses at some of Zimbabwe’s richest diamond fields.
Maguwu is the head of the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), an organization that, as an official observer of the Kimberly Process (KP), has been central in investigating human rights violations against local people in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields.
Abbey Chikane, the KP monitor for Zimbabwe, stated in his report on the country’s compliance with the KP Certification Scheme (KPCS) that he met with Maguwu in the presence of state intelligence officers, raising fears that he seriously compromised Maguwu’s safety.
The monitor’s statement calls into question the KP’s methods for protecting people who provide information about human rights violations at Zimbabwe’s diamond fields.
“Farai Maguwu is being persecuted for carrying out his lawful work of monitoring and documenting alleged human rights violations by security forces at some of Zimbabwe’s richest diamond fields,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa director. “We consider Farai Maguwu a prisoner of conscience and call on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.”
Maguwu has been detained since June 3 and was charged with “publishing or communicating false information prejudicial to the state” after he reportedly told a diamond trade monitor about human rights violations carried out by security forces in the Marange diamond fields.The activist had turned himself into the police after members of his family were beaten and interrogated by state officials.
On Friday, a Harare Magistrate denied Farai Maguwu bail after the state prosecutor said more time was needed to complete investigations. Lawyers are appealing the court’s decision to deny him bail.
Maguwu’s lawyers say their client is being detained as a means of punishment for revealing human rights violations to a diamond monitor from the KPCS, which is aimed at certifying rough diamonds as being free from links to violence.
Maguwu was charged under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Reform and Codification), a section that violates the right to freedom of expression and falls short of the standards set out under the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that everyone has the right to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This includes the right to submit to governmental bodies, agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and the right to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.