Towards a Stronger Human Rights Culture in Zimbabwe: the Special Role of Lawyers
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After consulting with the various security authorities, the Government decided in the middle of 1990 that in the light of the improved security situation, the state of emergency which had been continuously in effect since Independence (and which had been continuously in operation for some fifteen years before Independence) would not be renewed. The ending of the state of emergency meant that the rule of law was put back into full force. No person may now be detained without trial. All persons who are accused of any form of criminal activity, including subversive activity, must be brought before the criminal courts to answer to specific criminal charges and, if the courts decide that their guilt has not been proven, they must go free. No person may now be placed in preventive detention simply because the Central Intelligence Organisation or any other security agency believes that that person poses some sort of danger to State security or that they shouldn’t have been acquitted by the courts. The ending of the state of emergency has rightly been applauded both inside and outside the country. (To its credit, the Law Society had issued a public statement exhorting the authorities to take this step). The new environment which has been created by the ending of the state of emergency is more congenial for the establishment of a strong human rights culture and lawyers should play a pivotal role in the building up of this culture.