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Crisis Coalition condemns criminalization of civil society work

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) strongly condemns the continued systematic criminalization of civil society work by the State. On June 29, 2022 police disrupted two events which were being hosted by the National Association of Youth Organizations ( NAYO) and the Institute for Young Women's Development (IYWD). Police detained participants at the meeting who were later on released without charge while three IYWD staff members and a NAYO volunteer are in detention facing charges of convening a meeting without notifying authorities. The two organizations were holding separate constitutional awareness meetings with local residents when police besieged the venues of the meetings. CiZC implores the police to uphold Section 58 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which guarantees freedom of assembly. We note with great concern that the police, who are supposed to be custodians of the constitution, continue to be among the major violators of the country's supreme law.

We call for the unconditional release of the IYWD staffers and the NAYO volunteer who were arrested using a non-existent law. Criminalization of civil society work has no place in a democratic society. The arrest of civil society actors confirms our worst fears of the intentions by the State to persecute civil society actors and further close the democratic space ahead of the 2023 elections. Attempts to amend the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act testify to this. As the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we shall stand firm in our defence of the democratic space and we condemn in the strongest of terms attempts at further shrinking the democratic space and the quest for a one party state. The strategies to clampdown on civil society organisations and entrench authoritarian rule are reminiscent of the Ian Smith regime and go against the ideals of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. These despotic strategies are short lived and will be resisted by progressive Zimbabweans. ENDS// Douglas Tigere Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Youth Committee Chairperson +263 772 589 454

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