The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has today issued a formal statement expressing grave concern over the recent allegations of arrest, detention and prosecution of peaceful protesters in Zimbabwe, including those involved in the social media “#ThisFlag” movement, as well as allegations of torture and police brutality against those arrested and detained.

The statement draws particular attention to claims that the Zimbabwean police have sought to “ban” proposed peaceful protests and assemblies, resulting in the Courts having to be petitioned almost every time that a group wishes to peacefully protest. It also highlights threats issued by the Zimbabwean government to restrict access to social media platforms such as “Whatsapp”

In response to these threats to free expression in Zimbabwe, Chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights Committee Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“The Zimbabwean government’s actions of arresting, detaining and prosecuting peaceful protesters undermines Zimbabwe’s own established constitutional protections for freedom of expression, assembly and peaceful demonstration.  The arrest and prosecution of children for such offences is particularly concerning.  

Reports of torture and police brutality are in breach of Zimbabwe’s own constitution as well as international law.  The BHRC calls on the Zimbabwean government to respect its own constitution and to investigate independently and thoroughly any allegations of torture and police brutality”.  

Read the full BHRC statement here

(Image credit: Daily Maverick)