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LAC alarmed by lack of Zimbabwean election observers
Release date: March 26, 2008

THE Legal Assistance Centre learned with disappointment of the failure, refusal or neglect by the Zimbabwean Government to process the application of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Lawyers Association to observe the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe.

Although the application was filed at the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Gabarone, Botswana more than a week ago, no formal response has been received by Wednesday, 26 March 2008 – barely 48 hours before the voting commences.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

NORMAN TJOMBE
Director
Legal Assistance Centre
Windhoek, Namibia
ph: +264-61-223-356
fax: +264-61-234-953
ntjombe@lac.org.na


STERNFORD MOYO
President
SADC Lawyers Association
Harare, Zimbabwe
ph: +263-4-702-569
fax: +263-4-702561
scanlen@mweb.co.zw
www.sadclawyers.com

The Legal Assistance Centre understands that a list of observers was apparently approved by the Zimbabwean Cabinet, and that the SADC Lawyers Association was not included in that list.

"It appears that only a few selected countries, organizations and institutions friendly to the Mugabe regime had been approved to observe the elections," said Norman Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre in Windhoek. "All recent Zimbabwean elections have been marred in controversies and serious allegations tending to reflect negatively on the credibility, integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process and outcome have been made."

Some of these allegations have led to protracted litigation in the Zimbabwean courts. The Legal Assistance Centre believe that it is important that independent and impartial institutions such as the SADC Lawyers Association are permitted to observe the elections so as to promote fundamental democratic rights including the right to free and fair participation in all processes aimed at selecting political leaders.

The SADC Lawyers Association has a special interest in the elections in Zimbabwe and in the region, because among its main objects, is the promotion of human rights, democratic values and the rule of law in the SADC region.

The SADC Lawyers Association is an independent and impartial voluntary association made up of Law Societies and Bar Associations of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, including the Law Society of Namibia.

It has been in operation since August 1999. It has a vision of upholding human rights, the respect for the Rule of Law, promoting and support for the Independence of the Judiciary and protection of fundamental liberties especially for the underprivileged and minority groups.

The Legal Assistance Centre and the SADC Lawyers Association work closely with each other on the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy in the region and beyond.

Read how the LAC called on the Namibian government to stand up for human rights in Zimababwe in 2007.

The LAC raised concern about reports that two human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe were arrested without charge and held despite two court orders to allow them access to their lawyers and families. Learn more

Read about other people the LAC is assisting.

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