from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare
HARARE – ZIMBABWEAN lawyers are demanding the release of some refugees arrested during recent protests at the country’s main refugee camp.
The four individuals from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda were rounded up from Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge by some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers together with Department of Immigration officials.
They have been arbitrarily detained at Chikurubi Female Prison and at Harare Remand Prison.
It is believed the refugees, namely Christine Kwizagira, Mirelle Ruvubika, Agnes Uwizeya and Janine Niyongree, did not participate in the protests but were told they together with their children were advised that they were being taken to a refugee transit centre.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said however, they later found themselves detained at Chikurubi and at Harare prisons without their children and without any explanation as to why they were being held at these two prisons.
ZLHR has asked Chief Immigration Officer, Respect Gono, to secure the release of the refugees.
Lawyers, Paidamoyo Saurombe and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa, protested against the conduct of police officers and one Department of Immigration official, only identified as Shonhiwa.
The lawyers believe officers were liable for misconduct since Kwizagira, Uwizeya, Niyongree and others are recognised refugees with refugee status which has not been withdrawn.
Thus, they are entitled to the protection accorded to refugees at law.
The lawyers charged that even in the case of Ruvubika, whose application for recognition as a refugee is still pending, there is no legal basis for her detention.
ZLHR is planning to institute legal proceedings if the Department of Immigration fails to comply.
– CAJ News