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American Bar Association

International Human Rights Award


Mtetwa Wins 2010 International Human Rights Award

Beatrice Mtetwa


2010 Award Recipient: Beatrice Mtetwa – founding member and current Board Member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and is the immediate past President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

Photog of Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Beatrice Mtetwa graduated with an LLB degree from the University of Botswana and Swaziland in 1981 and prosecuted in Swaziland from June, 1981 to March 1983. She came to Zimbabwe in April, 1983 and joined the prosecution department up to January, 1989. Went into private practice in February, 1989 and specialised in human rights cases from 1990.

Mrs. Mtetwa has been involved in many civil society organizations and is a founder member and current Board Member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, is the Board Chair of Counselling Services Unit (treats, counsels and helps victims of organized political violence), is on the Boards of Child Protection Society (protects and cares for orphaned and vulnerable children), Media Monitoring Project, to name a few. She also sits on international boards including Freedom Under Law which monitors rule of law violations, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek) and Media Defence Fund (UK). She is the immediate Past President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

Since the early 1990’s, Beatrice Mtetwa actively defended victims of human rights abuses and has brought constitutional challenges in many cases including successfully challenging a Section of the Private Voluntary Organizations Act which gave the Minister power to dissolve NGOs or replace Board members. She also challenged election results in 37 constituencies in 2000, defended local and international journalists against Zimbabwe’s draconian media laws, defended many political leaders in the two MDCs, defended civil society activists such as abductees, etc. Mrs. Mtetwa has herself been a victim of human rights abuses and was assaulted by the police in 2003 and 2007.

She has won various awards in recognition of her defence of human rights including the Justice/Liberty Law Society of England and Wales Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2003; the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award 2005; the Index on Censorship for Free Expression Law Award 2006; the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award 2008 for Defending the Highest Ideals of Journalism and the Sydney Felicia Kentridge Award for Service to Law in South Africa given by the General Council of the Bar of South Africa; the Trarieux International Human Rights Prize 2009 given by the European Bar Human Rights Committee.

Beatrice Mtetwa serves on the Boards of the Independent and Standard newspapers, Mail and Guardian (South Africa) and TN Holdings Ltd. She is currently a senior partner in the law firm Mtetwa & Nyambirai incorporating Wilmot & Bennett from where she practices.