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Zimbabwe Attorney General's Office Declines Defense Role in Rights Suit

Zimbabwe's Office of the Attorney General has said it will not represent public officials and government departments named in a US$510,000 lawsuit by human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, abducted in December 2008, following a Supreme Court ruling in her favor.

Deputy Attorney General Prince Machaya said his office will not defend the senior government and ZANU-PF party figures named by Mukoko and others joining her in the civil action over their alleged abduction, torture and wrongful prosecution by state security forces.

Collectively they are seeking more than US$19 million dollars in damages.

Sources said the Office of the Attorney General filed a notice with the High Court on Friday confirming it won’t represent Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Home Affairs Co-Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa (of the Movement for Democratic Change), Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Brigadier General Asher Tapfumaneyi.

Human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo, representing Mukokoo, told reporter Sandra Nyaira said the move by the AG's office will not affect his client’s compelling legal case.

Elsewhere, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Rules and Orders on Monday interviewed 33 candidates for the country's independent human rights commission, correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Harare.

Experts said setting up a human rights commission may not end violations but could eclipse non-governmental groups that have been highlighting abuses to the global community.

Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare told Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that that unless government respects the judiciary, a commission can only make recommendations and fend off accusations of continued abuses.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...