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July 12, 2022

Zimbabwe: American Bar Association Center for Human Rights Intends to Observe the Trial of Union Leader Obert Masaraure

The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, through its Justice Defenders program, intends to monitor the trials and pretrial proceedings against Obert Masaraure. First, Obert Masaraure was arrested and faces charges of murder in connection with events which occurred in June 2016, in which Masaraure’s colleague Roy Issa died. Issa was presumed to have jumped from a hotel window to his death. In 2016, the Harare Magistrate Court “ruled out any form of foul play” in a court inquest. Masaraure was released on bail on July 6, 2022. However, he was re-arrested on July 8, 2022 on new charges of incitement to public violence in connection with posts he had made on Twitter and his website. Masaraure is scheduled to appear before the Harare Magistrates Court on July 12, 2022 for a bail hearing in the latter case. The Center for Human Rights will monitor both aforementioned trials against Masaraure.

Human rights organizations such as Frontline Defenders and the Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe have expressed concern that the arrest of Masaraure is in retaliation for his labor advocacy. Masaraure is the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) and was previously remanded on bail for treason charges in connection with a teachers’ protest. When reporting to the Harare Police Station as part of his bail conditions, Masaraure was arrested on June 14, 2022 on murder charges.

Trial monitoring, which entails sending a neutral observer into court to observe trial proceedings, permits an impartial assessment of whether a trial meets regional and international standards. Zimbabwe is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both of which guarantee the right to a fair trial.

The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the authors. They have not been reviewed or approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the position of the Association or any of its entities. (ABA Policy and Procedures Handbook, Chapter 5, Part C). Further, nothing in this report should be considered as legal advice in a specific case.