Amnesty says the continued detention of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) politician, Job Sikhala, who has spent 500 days in pretrial detention, is a gross miscarriage of justice and an indictment of Zimbabwe’s judicial system
Khanyo Farisè, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, said Sikhala’s prolonged detention exemplifies how authorities under the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration are abusing the courts to silence opposition leaders, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other critical dissenting voices.
Farisè said: “Authorities must stop weaponising the law to target opposition figures and ordinary citizens. The relentless harassment and intimidation of activists and human rights defenders via the courts must end. Everyone should be able to exercise their freedom of expression without any fear of reprisals.”
Farisè added that the right to a fair trial is recognised internationally as a fundamental human right and Zimbabwean authorities are required to respect it.
“The charges against him are politically motivated as based solely on the peaceful exercise of his human rights. The authorities have also failed to demonstrate the necessity of his detention awaiting trial. We call for his immediate and unconditional release. The international community must strongly condemn the continued harassment against him,” said Farisè
Job Sikhala, a former Member of Parliament for the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), was convicted on 3 May 2023 for obstruction of justice following his arrest on 14 June 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who had been missing for three weeks before being found murdered and mutilated on 11 June 2022.
Sikhala was given a suspended six months sentence with an option of paying US$ 600 or spending six months in jail. However, he was kept in prison pending a trial for two other charges of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct. His bail application has been denied multiple times. His trial for incitement started on 3 May 2023 and has been postponed to 27 October 2023. He has been held at Chikurubi Maximum-security prison in the capital Harare since June 2022.