Mtetwa nominated for International Women of Courage Award


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Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was nominated by the United States embassy in Harare for the International Women of Courage Award for 2008.

At the time she was the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and was the first woman to hold that post.

According to the embassy Mtetwa was a fearless lawyer who had represented dozens of human rights defenders, journalists and pro-democracy activists -all at great personal risk.

Police had arrested and harassed Mtetwa on numerous occasions during her career -yet she continued to serve as a vocal critic of the government.

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 07HARARE947, NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S AWARD FOR

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07HARARE947

2007-10-19 09:02

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3907

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0947 2920902

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 190902Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2044

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS HARARE 000947

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

FOR G/IWI

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMNPHUMPRELKPAOZW

SUBJECT: NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S AWARD FOR

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

 

REF: STATE 126072

 

¶1. (U) The following is Embassy Harare’s nomination for the

Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage.

 

SIPDIS

 

NAME: Beatrice Tele Mtetwa

TITLE: Senior Partner

INSTITUTION: Mtetwa & Nyambirai Law Firm

DOB: November 30, 1958

POB: Zimbabwe

Citizenship: Zimbabwean

Contact: 4th Floor, 101 Union avenue building Kwame Nkrumah avenue,

Harare, Zimbabwe.

TEL: 263-4-730896

 

¶2. Ms.Beatrice Mtetwa is a renowned human rights lawyer and is

currently serving as president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ).

She is a fearless lawyer who has represented dozens of human rights

defenders, journalists and pro-democracy activists — all at great

personal risk. Despite increasing state-violence, she continues to

be an outspoken advocate for the respect of human rights, women’s

rights, the rule of law, and an independent press. As the first

woman President of the LSZ, Mtetwa has been a passionate advocate

for Zimbabwean women, serving as a role model and promoting a fuller

participation and advancement of women in the legal and judicial

community, and fighting to insure their equal protection and

participation in all facets of Zimbabwean society.

 

¶3. Police have arrested and harassed Mtetwa on numerous occasions

during her career – yet she continues to serve as a vocal critic of

the government. On May 8, for example, Mtetwa led a demonstration of

more than 50 lawyers in front of the high court to protest the

arbitrary arrest and detention of two prominent human rights

lawyers. Police disrupted the gathering by brutally beating the

lawyers with batons. Police forced Mtetwa and three other lawyers

into a truck and drove them to a secluded area on the outskirts of

town where they were severly beaten and abandoned. Mtetwa did not

let her injuries, or threats from police, prevent her from vocally

condemning the attack or the continued detention of her colleagues

in the days that followed. Mtetwa’s bravery and resolve inspired

other demostrations by lawyers around the country.

 

¶4. In March 2007, police physically manhandled and threatened Mtetwa

while she was serving court papers. In October 2003, police

arbitrarily arrested Mtetwa on false allegations and detained her

for three hours. Police beat and choked Mtetwa before releasing her

without charge. Although she was unable to speak for two days as a

result of the assault, she returned to the police station on the

third day, with medical evidence in hand, to file charges.

 

¶5. Mtetwa’s experiences as a victim have fueled her engagement with

civil society. As a board member of Counseling Services Unit, the

premier service provider to victims of state-sponsored and organized

violence and torture (OVT), (a majority of whom have been women and

of whom Mtetwa was one), she has provided leadership to assure that

all victims of OVT receive prompt and adequate medical and

psycho-social treatment and care. As a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers

for Human rights and one of the leading human rights lawyers in the

country, Mtetwa has played a key role in assuring that expert legal

representation and counsel is provided to human rights defenders and

other pro-democracy activists. She has worked with women activists

such as WOZA, helping them to continue their activism, secure in the

knowledge that a safety net of first class legal (and medical) care

is available to them should they fall victim to the regime’s

repression and violence.

 

¶5. Promoting democratic change is the U.S. government’s highest

priority strategic goal in Zimbabwe. Ms. Mtetwa is one of

Zimbabwe’s most courageous women. In consideration of her continued

commitment to the defense of human rights defenders, the rule of

law, and an independent media in Zimbabwe, Embassy Harare highly

recommends Mtetwa be considered for the 2008 International Women of

Courage Award.

 

¶6. Embassy Officers working on women’s issues:

NAME: Mr. Scott Higgins (POL Section), U.S. Embassy Harare, TEL:

263-4-250593/4

NAME: Ms. Priscillah Kapungu, (Public Affairs Section) U.S. Embassy

Harare, TEL: 263-4-758800/1

 

DHANANI

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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