HARARE - The United States is concerned about human rights violations in Zimbabwe, a visiting delegation from Washington said yesterday.
The delegation is in the country for a four-day visit. It consists of two senior State department officials, Shannon Smith, who is deputy assistant secretary for African affairs and Steven Feldstein, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.
The two will meet government, business, and civil society representatives.
“From the United States’ perspective, we have concerns about the human rights violations and that includes intimidation, harassment, torture and forced disappearances,” Feldstein said at the US Embassy yesterday.
“We are also concerned about long-standing government restrictions, when it comes to the ability of civil society to operate, independent media, political parties, activists and regular citizens and we believe these long-standing restrictions do impede fundamental freedoms.
“We are now entering a third month into the disappearance of Itai Dzamara, he’s a civil society activist. His disappearance is something of a strong concern to the United States. We have raised the issue of his disappearance with the government and would welcome regular updates as to the status of the investigation as ordered by the High Court.”
Dzamara was abducted on March 9 near his home in Glen View and has not been seen since.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights successfully filed a habeas corpus application at the High Court ordering senior security officials “to do all things necessary to determine his whereabouts”.
High Court Justice David Mangota also directed a team of police detectives to work closely with Dzamara’s legal team to search for him.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is appealing for information on the whereabouts of Itai Peace Kadiki Dzamara, aged 35 years,” said a police statement issued with contact details.
Smith said the visit was principally meant to emphasise their support for Zimbabwe.
“We not here to announce any policy changes… we want to emphasise we want Zimbabwe to prosper and we engage in activities that support economic development as well as in the areas of health, agriculture, education and democratic institutions,” Smith said.
“For example, our support for constitutional electoral reform, Parliament, civil society oganisations; we share the long term goals as the people of Zimbabwe, the democratic society that meets its citizens’ needs.
“The United States puts the protection of human rights at the centre of our foreign policy, including the rights of freedom of information and expression.”