THE Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) has castigated the country’s judiciary, saying it should respect the role of lawyers.
In a statement yesterday, Salc said the judiciary failed to uphold basic United Nations principles on the role of lawyers that stipulate that they should not be identified with their clients or clients’ causes.
The statements come after High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on Tuesday advised the Attorney-General (AG)’s Office to take appropriate action against MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers for allegedly making disparaging remarks against the judiciary.
Salc director Nicole Fritz said the body was alarmed at Bhunu’s order that lawyers acting for Tsvangirai’s lawyers be subjected to punitive action by the AG and prosecuting authority.
“According to Justice Bhunu, these statements amount to an attack on the dignity and integrity of the judiciary,” the body said.
“(Justice) Bhunu’s order appears calculated to intimidate lawyers and ensure those who find themselves in opposition to the new Zimbabwean government will battle to find legal representation despite constitutional entitlements.
“Justice Bhunu makes this outrageous punitive order directed at the lawyers ostensibly to protect the integrity of the judiciary. But there can be no surer way of bringing the courts into disrepute than by having a judge issue orders in clear contravention of the uniformly recognised and upheld principles protecting the legal profession.”
Fritz called upon Justice Bhunu to rescind his order and for the judiciary in Zimbabwe to respect the role of lawyers.