Zim rights abuses slammed

HARARE - As the country hurtles towards the crunch 2018 elections — human rights violations are increasing by the day with civil society warning that the situation will only get worse.

Recently, four activists including missing journalist Itai Dzamara’s brother Patson were abducted by suspected State agents, before being tortured ahead of a planned demonstration against the President Robert Mugabe-led administration. The activists were left for dead, while Dzamara’s car was set alight.

When Dzamara was abducted, he was in the company of fellow activists — Ishmael Kauzani, Nathan Matadza and Nashe Salami.

Civic society organisations have slammed the government for violating basic human rights.

“Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) strongly condemns the violation of the rights of human rights defenders (HRDs), who were abducted and tortured by unidentified men on Friday, November 18, 2016 following an organised ambush,” ZLHR said in a statement soon after the abduction incident.

According to the country’s Constitution, every citizen has the right to freedom of assembly and association, but civil society say those rights are being denied.

“ZLHR condemns the inhuman treatment of these HRDs, which was clearly meant to curtail them from leading or participating in an anti-government protest which they were organising as legitimate pro-democracy campaigners,” the organisation said.

“It is shocking that such barbaric acts have been committed just some few weeks after the government attempted to paint a rosy picture of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe at the United Nations Human Rights Council-led Universal Periodic Review Process in Geneva.”

The organisation said that torture and abduction is an outdated, inhumane, and ineffective practice that ruins the lives of innocent people.

“ZLHR believes that citizens should be allowed to enjoy their rights and be free to exercise their rights in their country of origin for social, political and economic growth to be achieved.”

The organisation urged the government to cease harassing activists, adding that the attack on citizens will affect the country’s stability.

It also urged the responsible ministries to bring to account the alleged perpetrators.

“ZLHR reminds the government that it has legal obligations under several international and African human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), which it needs to respect,” the organisation said, adding that the Southern African Development Community must deploy an independent investigative team to assess the deteriorating human rights issues in Zimbabwe.

Another human rights watch group Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), said the attack on activists is seen as a way of intimidating Zimbabweans who intend to take part in the planned demonstration  organised by several civic society groups.

“ZPP notes with concern that abductions are becoming a trend. ZPP maintains that perpetrators of these heinous acts should be brought to book and citizens’ right to personal security must be respected,” ZPP said.

“The harassment of Kuwadzana residents, reports on the abduction and torture of Patson and three other activists as well as heavy police presence in Mufakose and Mbare intimidated people into not taking part in the demonstration.

“The State, by deploying uniformed forces, has again thwarted citizens’ right to freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate and petition.”

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