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.
Viewing cable 07HARARE947, NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S AWARD FOR
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
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S AWARD FOR
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE
REF: STATE 126072
Â¶1. (U) The following is Embassy Harare’s nomination for the
Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage.
NAME: Beatrice Tele Mtetwa
TITLE: Senior Partner
INSTITUTION: Mtetwa & Nyambirai Law Firm
DOB: November 30, 1958
Contact: 4th Floor, 101 Union avenue building Kwame Nkrumah avenue,
Â¶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.
Â¶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.
Â¶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.
Â¶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.
Â¶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
Â¶6. Embassy Officers working on women’s issues:
NAME: Mr. Scott Higgins (POL Section), U.S. Embassy Harare, TEL:
NAME: Ms. Priscillah Kapungu, (Public Affairs Section) U.S. Embassy
Harare, TEL: 263-4-758800/1