3 December 2008
To: The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, Jestina Mukoko was abducted today (December 3, 2008) at 5am (Zimbabwe time). Jestina was bundled into an unmarked Mazda Familia by suspected Central Intelligence Organisation agents and her whereabouts are currently unknown. According to her son, who spoke to ZLHR, a group of at least 20 people surrounded their house early this morning and four armed men broke in and dragged Jestina out. It is unclear whether Jestina's abduction is specifically targeting the Zimbabwe People’s Party (ZPP) or is part of a wider clampdown on civil society activists ahead of the planned Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) strike action today. Lawyers from ZLHR are going from police station to police station in a bid to locate where she is being held.
Meanwhile, police have raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in the southern city of Bulawayo. Police have accused ZLHR of supporting calls by the national labour body for a nationwide strike to protest against the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country. No arrests have been made, but this latest call reinforces fears that a widespread clampdown on human rights groups by Zimbabwe's de facto government is now in full force.
As human rights advocacy and faith based organisations with mandates for women and young people, we wish to bring to your attention the abduction of Jestina Mukoko. We are deeply concerned for her safety and well-being. We have maintained positive communication with Human Rights Desk officer for Zimbabwe at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
We therefore now appeal to you to use your mandates and good offices to respond to this specific case and ensure protection and rule of law in Jestina Mukoko’s case in these crucial first 24 hours in accordance with the international human rights law, including CEDAW that Zimbabwe has ratified.