30 Aug 2002
Zimbabwe: Amani Trust offices raided by police, me

The IRCT has been advised by its partner organisation in Zimbabwe, the Amani Trust, that police raided its Harare office yesterday, 29 August, and that Amani's Medical Director, Dr Frances Lovemore, was subsequently arrested.

According to the information we have received to date, the Law and Order section of the Zimbabwean police visited Amani's Harare office yesterday morning with a search warrant, placed Dr Lovemore under arrest and confiscated a number of documents from her office. Dr Lovemore was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon and remanded in custody for 48 hours. She is currently being held at Warren Park Police station and will be appearing in court again this morning to be formally charged with an offence under the Access to Information Act. We understand that she is in good health, has access to a lawyer and to members of her family.

Dr Lovemore's arrest appears connected to her actions in recent weeks publicising allegations of the rape and enslaving of hundreds of girls, some of them as young as 12 years old, by Zanu PF's 'youth militia' in rural districts of Zimbabwe. It is believed that the girls are being attacked because of the perceived political views of their parents. Dr Lovemore was quoted in an article on this issue that appeared in the Daily Telegraph (UK), 'Mugabe men 'use rape as revenge', on 25 August 2002.

While the political situation in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating for several years, this is believed to be the first occasion in which a human rights activist has been arrested. As such, it suggests a further hardening of the Government's attitude towards free expression and internal critique.

Dr Lovemore is a women of great presence and wisdom, a general practitioner, Zimbabwean citizen and mother of three young children. Two years ago, she gave up her family practice, appalled by the increase in political violence in the country, and began instead to work instead with examining and documenting and treating victims of torture. Dr Lovemore is the Medical Director of the Amani Trusts Harare Office and a member of the Amani Board of Trustees.

The IRCT is calling on the Zimbabwean Government to ensure the early and safe release of Dr Lovemore from custody. The IRCT calls further on the Zimbabwean authorities to fully support the work being done by the Amani Trust to treat victims of torture and organised violence and to return all confiscated material.

The IRCT encourages the international community to maintain its pressure on the Zimbabwean authorities until such time as the political situation in the country improves.

One practical way of doing this would be to ensure full implementation of the travel bans imposed in recent months by the EU on high-ranking Zanu PF officials. In this regard, we note that the Head of the Zimbabwean Police, Mr Chihuri, is currently visiting France in his capacity as Vice-President of Interpol.

We are appreciative of any action you can take in support of this case. We will keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Jens Modvig, MD, PhD

Secretary-General 

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