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More Pressure On Zim Govt To Release Sikhala

Global organization of national parliaments, the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has called on Zimbabwean authorities to provisionally release incarcerated Zengeza west legislator Job Sikhala.

Sikhala is facing charges of inciting public violence following statements he made at slain opposition activist Moreblessing Ali’s funeral and has been in remand since June.

In a statement after the Union’s Governing Council meeting in Rwanda, IPU said it is concerned with the inhumane conditions that the opposition legislator is facing in prison.

“The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is deeply concerned that Mr. Sikhala has been held in Chikurubi maximum security prison on remand since his arrest on 14 June 2022, his applications for bail having been denied on four occasions; fails to understand how his detention in a maximum security prison could possibly be justified; is alarmed by allegations that Mr. Sikhala is being held in inhumane conditions, with reports that he is shackled with leg irons at all times and forced to sleep on the bare floor.

“IPU fails to see the legal basis for his prolonged incarceration and the excessive delays in his trial, which is scheduled to begin four months from his initial arrest; is particularly concerned by these different allegations, bearing in mind the findings of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, in an earlier case, that he had been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention and torture; calls on the authorities to provisionally release Mr. Sikhala without delay so that he may return to his parliamentary duties without undue obstacles to his parliamentary mandate,” said IPU.

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The Union called on the Parliament of Zimbabwe to provide the council with transcripts of Sikhala’s statements that supports the charges.

“Is concerned by allegations of the violation of the right to a fair trial and maladministration of justice raised by the complainant, including the allegation that the trial is politically motivated, which would appear to be directly borne out by public statements reportedly made by certain executive authorities; fails to understand the factual basis for the arrest of Mr. Sikhala on charges of inciting public violence and obstruction of justice in relation to a speech he had made in his capacity as the lawyer of a family of a murdered opposition activist; wishes to receive further information on this point from the authorities; and requests the parliamentary authorities to help make available a comprehensive transcript of the relevant statement(s) made by Mr. Sikhala that underpin the charges.

“Stresses that, notwithstanding considerations of the separation of powers, the parliament of Zimbabwe can look into such allegations by virtue of its oversight function, as reflected in Article 119 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe; looks forward to hearing from the parliamentary authorities on this point. Decides to send a trial observer to the criminal proceedings, with a view to gathering information and reporting on how the fundamental human rights of Mr. Sikhala are being respected in the case at hand;

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Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the parliamentary authorities and other relevant national authorities, the complainant and any interested third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information to assist the Committee in its work. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.” said the Union

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