The following press release was distributed to media today:
Inter-Parliamentary Union to Investigate Violation of Human Rights Against Opposition Parliamentarian Job Sikhala
Multilateral body accepts application from the member of parliament, highlights concerns over abuses, and calls on the authorities to provisionally release the parliamentarian from remand so that he can resume his parliamentary duties.
LONDON, 21 October 2022 – An application brought by Job Sikhala, a member of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and Vice National Chairman of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, who has been held without trial in Chikurubi maximum security prison since 14 June 2022, has been accepted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, and unanimously adopted for further investigation.
In citing the application filed on behalf of Mr. Sikhala, which included claims of arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of due process, and serious allegations concerning the inhumane conditions of Mr. Sikhala’s ongoing detention as a result of his public criticism of the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the IPU Committee stated that it “fails to understand how his detention in a maximum security prison could be justified” and is “alarmed by allegations that Mr. Sikhala is being held in inhumane conditions, with reports that he is shackled with leg irons at all times and forced to sleep on the bare floor”.
“We are pleased with the decision of the IPU Committee to adopt this very important application for Mr. Sikhala, which illustrates that the problem in Zimbabwe relates to the capture, by the ruling ZANU PF party, of large sectors of the judiciary who have abandoned rule of law in favor of telephone justice”, said Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which represents Mr. Sikhala on a pro bono basis. “The state of democracy in Zimbabwe is deteriorating rapidly, and there is a desperate need to investigate the near-daily human rights abuses under the increasingly oppressive regime of President Mnangagwa. As more information on this case is exposed, we hope that the international community will call on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect local and international law and uphold the fundamental human rights of Zimbabwean citizens.”
According to the IPU Committee decision, the allegations made in Mr. Sikhala’s application are “particularly concerning” given that the Committee had already found on a previous case concerning Mr. Sikhala that he had been subjected to “arbitrary arrest and detention and torture”. With respect to the current charges against Mr. Sikhala, the IPU Committee noted that it “fails to understand the factual basis for the arrest of Mr. Sikhala on charges of inciting public violence and obstruction of justice in relation to a speech he had made in his capacity as the lawyer of a family of a murdered opposition activist”.
The decision to adopt Mr. Sikhala’s application (CASE ZWE-46) was resolved during the 210th session of the Governing Counsel on the Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10-15 October 2022.
Speaking on behalf of his client, Amsterdam expressed his gratitude toward the IPU Committee, and his thanks for its decision to send a trial observer to monitor Mr. Sikhala’s criminal proceedings and report on whether his fundamental human rights are being respected.
Amsterdam & Partners LLP is an international law firm with offices in London and Washington DC. More information is available at www.amsterdamandpartners.com.