Heal Zimbabwe calls on state to abandon Mahiya ED coup plot trial
By Staff Reporter
HEAL Zimbabwe Trust has called on authorities to abandon trial on its executive director, Rashid Mahiya who was arrested a year ago and charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
When he got arrested, Mahiya endured weeks in remand prison until a High Court judge ordered his release on US$1000 bail.
This followed an earlier refusal by a Harare magistrate to remove the prominent rights activist from remand on the grounds he was facing serious charges.
Tough reporting conditions were also imposed in which Mahiya was ordered to report twice a week to police, surrender his passport with the courts, not interfere with state witnesses and to continue residing at his given residential address.
One year on, the civic organisation says the continued placement of its head on remand violated his rights to fair trial.
In a statement, Heal Zimbabwe said it was “dismayed” by the denial to remove Mahiya from routine remand.
Said the group, “Heal Zimbabwe notes that the refusal to remove Mahiya on routine remand creates a cloud of uncertainty within civil society in as far as human rights work is concerned.
“This will directly impact on the operations of the affected individual and that of Heal Zimbabwe Trust.
“Mahiya has spent a lot of time in courts diverting him from exercising his internationally recognized right to promote and protect human rights enshrined under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
“Worrying is the fact that the incessant postponements of the trial of Mahiya also reveal the state’s inability to furnish the courts with adequate evidence incriminating Mahiya on the said charges.
“Heal Zimbabwe also views the denial to remove Mahiya on routine remand as an exercise meant to frustrate Mahiya in his fight for democracy and human rights as a human rights defender.”
Heal Zimbabwe also cautioned Mahiya’s prolonged remand placement did not just inconvenience its leader but everyone else involved in the case, including key witnesses.
“Further to this, long periods of routine remand also erode citizens’ trust in the judiciary.
“Added to this, international best practices on people awaiting trial dictate that justice must be served timely to avoid interference and hesitancy on the part of the judiciary.
“Article 14 (3c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 stipulates that people awaiting trial must ‘be tried without undue delays’.
“In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the state to unconditionally drop all charges against Mahiya and create a conducive environment for human rights defenders to operate.
“The authorities must also guarantee the right to free trial for Mahiya including the right for him to be removed from routine bail.”