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Zimbabwe Civic Groups Boycott Justice Ministry Conference Over NGO Arrests

Zimbabwean civic organizations said Tuesday they will boycott a conference opening on Wednesday in Victoria Falls under the auspices of the Justice Ministry to protest Sunday’s arrest of two officers of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in the northwest resort town on charges of holding an illegal public meeting.

The conference to be boycotted is titled "Access to The Zimbabwean Justice System." Those vowing to boycott the workshop include the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Law Society of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe NGO Forum and NANGO itself.

Police arrested two senior NANGO officials Sunday in Victoria Falls on charges they violated the Public Order and Security Act by holding a meeting without a police clearance.

Cephas Zinhumwe and Dadirai Chikwengo appeared in court on Tuesday and posted bail of US$100 apiece. Their next court appearance was set for November 25th. Defense lawyers said they would challenge the placement of the two on remand.

Communications Officer Kumbirai Mafunda of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the NGOs boycotting this week’s conference cited the ongoing targeting and arrest of civic activists and human rights defenders.

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