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After 1980 Zimbabwe was widely regarded as a model African democracy. However, since 2000, the country has been engulfed in a crippling political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that has virtually wiped out the progress made over the previous two decades. An estimated 3.5 million Zimbabweans have fled the country over the past seven years.

Zimbabwe once boasted one of Africa's most sophisticated and developed legal communities. However, the country's justice system was adversely affected by the political meltdown, with lawyers and judges fleeing the country by the hundreds. The country's prisons swelled and the pre-trial detention population soared. During this period of turmoil, torture became widely accepted as a legitimate tool for police investigation and judicial sanctions. A total system collapse resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe on a massive scale.

Zimbabwe is divided into 8 provinces and 2 cities with provincial status (Harare and Bulawayo). The current Legal Aid Directorate (LAD) is staffed by 15 lawyers, all based in Harare, representing the needs of Zimbabwe's 12 million citizens. LAD focuses almost exclusively on civil cases. As a result, defendants receive legal aid only in the most serious of cases.

Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual

Table of Contents


Legal Training Resource Center

eLearning Courses for Zimbabwean lawyers