Since 2000, Zimbabwe has been engulfed in a crippling political, economic and humanitarian crisis, which has had an adverse effect on its justice system. Formerly Torture has accounted for 25% of all reported human rights violations, the country’s 55 prisons are severely overcrowded, with 18% percent of the total prison population awaiting trial. Zimbabwe Bridges to Justice was established in 2008 in response to this and has been working to guarantee early access to a lawyer which will lead to reduced instances of torture and less prison overcrowding.
Impact in numbers
The Coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing issues relating to overcrowding of prisons, not only this but during the pandemic there were mass waves of arrests and incarceration of people, who had violated the lockdown. The pandemic highlighted the urgent need for legal protection to reduce instances of torture and reduce prison overpopulation. IBJ Zimbabwe coordinates with a group of lawyers to provide free legal representation and provide the lawyers with legal skills training.
- 1 Defender Resource Center operating in Harare.
- 2,945 cases handled.
- 418 lawyers trained
- 11 justice roundtables held with local lawyers and justices.
- 2,505,000 individuals reached through rights awareness campaigns
Zimbabwe Bridges to Justice has partnered with the Zimbabwe Young Lawyers Association to provide a legal aid response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project aims to protect those arrested from the threat of COVID-19 by providing them with early legal access, thus preventing them from having to spend the night in overcrowded cells where the detainee’s are not adequately separated to prevent the spread of CoronaVirus.
High impact successes include:
- Took on 304 cases which prevented the accused of being exposed to COVID-19 in an overcrowded detention facility in Harare
- The only organization to offer free legal services to those arrested in connection with violating COVID-19 lockdown measures
Zimbabwe Bridges to Justice provides training, tools, manuals, eLearning and a Defense Wiki, which has been accessed over 96 thousand times. These resources increase the capacity and performance of lawyers in Zimbabwe, enabling them to better serve those in Zimbabwe languishing behind bars, too poor to afford a lawyer.
- DefenseWiki – references, legal codes, and assessments
- Defender Manual – Criminal Defender ToolKit
- eLearning Modules – in-depth and topic-focussed training (login required).
What we need
There are many ways to get involved, to help make a long term difference. Please get in touch.