Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is condemning state-controlled media reports it labels “attacks” on High Court judge Charles Hungwe.
In a statement Tuesday, the human rights group said the reports in state-controlled and other partisan media constitute professional and personal attacks on the judge, calling them a disturbing assault on the independence and integrity of the judiciary and legal profession in Zimbabwe.
The group charged it has been starkly clear that the state-controlled outlets were abusing the position of judges, who are unable to comment on cases that have been placed before them, “by reporting on such cases and attacking the person and integrity of a judge in an entirely unethical, contemptuous, and one sided manner.”
Justice Hungwe has been criticized in the state-controlled media after granting searches of the offices of three Zanu-PF ministers and ordering the release of human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.
A number of published articles center around the judge’s failure to sentence a man convicted of robbery and murder after losing court records.
Another cited case is the one in which he allegedly granted a notice of withdrawal in a housing wrangle between Old Mutual Company and another party.
Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, called for those in the judicial system to take an urgent and robust measure to end the persecution of justice Hungwe.
Mr. Mafunda said: "We believe that this is hate speech and false reporting which has not only been tolerated but has been encouraged.”
ZLHR expects the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, the Judge President of the High Court and the Judicial Service Commission, to step in after releasing their statement.