ZLHR Condemns Acts of Surveillance and Intimidation of Magombeyi

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns the malicious and illegal actions of some unidentified people who intimidated Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) leader Dr Peter Magombeyi at the Robert Mugabe International Airport as he left the country to seek and access specialist medical services in South Africa.

In what amounts to an act of surveillance, two unidentified people on Thursday 26 September 2019 took pictures and/ or recorded video footage as Dr Magombeyi at the boarding gates as he was departing. The two unidentified airport personnel did not explain the motive of their actions.

Earlier on, Dr Magombeyi had been frustrated on several occasions by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, in open defiance of a lawful court order, preventing him from leaving the country to access urgent specialist medical care which would threaten his right to health and right to life.

ZLHR strongly condemns the acts of surveillance and violation of his right to privacy. As a victim of an enforced disappearance the purpose of this sadistic action was to further intimidate, instill anxiety and fear in him.

Similar acts of surveillance, intimidation and targeting human rights defenders have been recorded in the recent past. These have culminated in serious life-threatening security incidents such as abduction and enforced disappearance.

The unsanctioned taking of pictures and recording of videos of a victim of abduction and enforced disappearance without their consent has the effect of reliving the memory of his abduction and ill-treatment.

It can only be concluded that the continued persecution of Dr Magombeyi is an indication that people who ill-treated him and violated his rights, who are still at large, may still be trailing him.

ZLHR remains concerned that ZRP was prepared to delay the departure, offering to provide security to Dr Magombeyi outside the country, although ZRP had failed to take urgent action to protect Dr Magombeyi prior to his abduction. Dr Magombeyi had previously reported a case of receiving threatening messages over the phone. Although he provided the police with all the necessary details such as the contact number and the messages the police did not swiftly investigate this incident and apprehend the suspect.

Further, on 28 August 2019, Dr Magombeyi posted on his Twitter handle that he had received a message from on an Econet subscriber number +263 786 645 911 threatening his enforced disappearance.

It is disturbing to note that the same mobile phone number which senta threatening message to Dr Magombeyi is the same number that was used to send threatening messages to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders Peter Mutasa and Japhet Moyo on 14 and 15 August 2019. Although police reports were filed at Harare Central Police station, law enforcement agents are yet to apprehend the culprit(s). The complete lack of accountability of those responsible for perpetrating violations against human rights defenders is of special concern given the pervasive culture of impunity in Zimbabwe.

ZLHR calls upon the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, ZRP Commissioner-General to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction, disappearance and ill-treatment of Dr Magombeyi and bring to account those persons responsible for the abduction and the violation of his fundamental rights.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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