18 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimrights Official Granted Bail After Two Month Detention

The deputy programs manager for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has been released on bail, two months after his arrest and detention.

ZimRights' Leo Chamahwinya was granted US$1,000 bail on Monday, with reporting conditions.

He was arrested during a police raid on the group's offices in early December last year, on allegations that he was involved in 'illegal voter registration'. He was then charged with 'conspiracy to commit fraud'.

Three other individuals were also arrested in December and charged in the same case. The other three, Dorcas Shereni, Tanaka Chinaka and Farai Bhani, were all accused of forgery, fraud and publishing 'false statements'. The state has alleged that the group forged voter registration certificates "to tarnish the name of the Registrar General."

Shereni was released two weeks ago.

ZimRights chief Okay Machisa was also arrested last month as part of the same case, while the organisation itself has been charged as an entity. Machisa was bailed after more than a week in custody.

The clampdown on human rights groups has been intensifying in recent weeks, and last week the offices of the Zimbabwe Peace Project were raided by Harare police. Computers, files and other items were confiscated during the raid.

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