Police, army crackdown targeted males: ZHRC

HARARE - Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) yesterday castigated use of the military in arresting and bringing to justice suspected perpetrators of the three-day stay-away saying the army does not have arresting powers.

Findings by the commission reveal that in the aftermath of January 14 disturbances, armed and uniformed members of Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police instigated systematic torture where they were targeting all males.

ZHRC Commissioner Sheila Hillary Matindike told journalists yesterday: “The use of military details that do not have arresting powers in the arrests also led to the violation of the right to liberty in respect of the men arrested.”

She added that during a court hearing at the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Courts, a police officer admitted that they were accompanied by armed soldiers during the home raids and at one point interrogated an eight-year-old girl who supposedly led them to some of the accused persons.

Matindike urged the general public to bring forward evidence they have of armed forces’ brutality.

The commission said it is concerned about the continued use of the military in maintaining law and order and it seems the country has not learnt anything from the August 1, 2018 events.

“From reports received to date, indications are that more citizens have died during the current protests than those who died during August 1. 

“It is therefore disturbing to note that the deployment of the army in quelling civilian disturbances leads to loss of life and serious bodily injuries and other human rights violations, yet the Government continues to make such deployments,” Matindike said.

The commission said they made visits to some of the victims who were allegedly assaulted by the police and soldiers and noted that their modus operandi was the same in all communities were the uniformed forces would arrive at people’s houses at night or in the early hours of the day and ask all men to go outside and lie on the ground before beating them up.

“It was also stated that the police were letting loose their dogs to attack those whom they suspected to have caused mayhem. The looting and vandalism of property by perpetrators does not justify the police brutality,” Matindike said.


 

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