Zimbabwe’s authorities, including the Minister of Justice and prison officials, should immediately take measures to end the inhuman prison conditions in which prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe Party leader Jacob Ngarivhume are being held.
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume, currently in pretrial detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare, were arrested on July 20 for allegedly inciting public violence. The activists had helped expose high-level corruption in Zimbabwe and called for nationwide anti-corruption protests on July 31.
Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who are representing Chin’ono and Ngarivhume, told Human Rights Watch that prison officials repeatedly denied them the right to interview their clients in private. They also refused to allow them to give their clients warm clothing and food from outside the prison, even though, for medical reasons, the two cannot eat the Sadza (maize meal) provided in prison. As a result, the two men have no access to food and a diet prescribed along with their medication.
The lawyers said they have initiated a High Court application to compel the Minister of Justice and the Commissioner General of Prisons to uphold the rights of their clients, including access to food, visits by relatives, protective clothing, and private consultations with their lawyers.
Zimbabwe authorities should uphold the rights of all detainees in accordance with the country’s regional and international obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.