Zimbabwe High Court Awards Damages In Ground Breaking Judgment

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11/25/2019

The Honourable Justice Bere awarded Ricky Nathanson, a transgender woman and activist originally from Bulawayo, $400,000 in damages. The High Court awarded Ms Nathanson damages for unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution and emotional distress. The significant High Court decision came after Ms Nathanson sued the police for unlawful arrest, detention, malicious prosecution and emotional distress in 2014. In January of that year, she was arrested by six riot police officers on charges of “criminal nuisance” for wearing female clothes and using a female toilet. She was forced to undergo invasive and humiliating medical/physical examination and asked to remove her clothes in front of five male police officers in order to “verify her gender”. She was forced to spend two nights in police holding cells in the most appalling conditions. During the period of her arrest, the case made national headlines and the mainstream media exposed her life to public scrutiny. When the case came before the Magistrate, the Magistrate required the prosecutor to indicate how Ms Nathanson had violated criminal nuisance laws, which are ordinarily used against people committing misdemeanours, such as lighting firecrackers, in public places. The prosecutor could not provide evidence to link Ms Nathanson to the charge and the case was dismissed.

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