Amnesty International: Sikhala’s detention a ‘gross miscarriage of justice’

Amnesty International has condemned the continued pretrial detention of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) member Job Sikhala describing it as a gross miscarriage of justice and an indictment of Zimbabwe’s judicial system.

“Job Sikhala’s prolonged detention while he awaits trial is a gross miscarriage of justice and an indictment of Zimbabwe’s judicial system. It exemplifies how authorities are abusing the courts to silence opposition leaders, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other critical dissenting voices,” said Khanyo Farisè, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa.

Sikhala has clocked 500 in detention at Chikurubi Maximum-security prison in Harare following his arrest in June 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who had been missing for three weeks before being found murdered and mutilated on 11 June 2022.

Sikhala was given a suspended six-month sentence with an option of paying US$ 600 or spending six months in jail.

However, he remains in detention pending trial on two other charges of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct.

Amnesty believes that the charges against Sikhala are politically motivated and that his detention is a violation of his right to a fair trial and his freedom of expression.

“Authorities must stop weaponising the law to target opposition figures and ordinary citizens. The relentless harassment and intimidation of activists and human rights defenders via the courts must end. Everyone should be able to exercise their freedom of expression without any fear of reprisals,” said Farisè.

“The right to a fair trial is recognised internationally as a fundamental human right and Zimbabwean authorities are required to respect it. The charges against him are politically motivated as based solely on the peaceful exercise of his human rights. The authorities have also failed to demonstrate the necessity of his detention awaiting trial. We call for his immediate and unconditional release. The international community must strongly condemn the continued harassment against him.”

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