Security Forces Violate Human Rights in Zimbabwe

Now Daily


Zimbabwean security forces have been implicated in excessive human rights abuses and political killings which could disqualify them from active United Nations duties.

A combination of Zanu PF militia, armed government soldiers and police as well as a compromised judiciary coagulated to create mass terror for citizens, said an official United States report.

“The most important human rights problems remained the government’s targeting members of non-ZANU-PF parties and civil society activists for abduction, arrest, torture, abuse, and harassment; partisan application of the rule of law by security forces and the judiciary; and restrictions on civil liberties,” said the U.S. State Department human rights report for 2015 released recently.

“There were many other human rights problems. Prison conditions were harsh. The government’s expropriation of private property continued. Executive political influence and interference in the judiciary continued, and the government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. The government generally failed to investigate or prosecute state security or ZANU-PF supporters responsible for violence. Authorities restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. The government continued to evict citizens; invade farms, private businesses and properties; and demolish informal marketplaces and settlements. The government arrested, detained, prosecuted, and harassed nongovernmental organization (NGO) members. Government corruption remained widespread, including at the local level. Violence and discrimination against women; child abuse; trafficking of men, women, and children; and discrimination against persons with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, and persons with HIV/AIDS were problems. The government interfered with labor-related events. The government took limited steps to punish security sector officials and ZANU-PF supporters who committed violations, but impunity continued to be a problem.”

The report said government took limited steps to punish security sector officials and ZANU-PF supporters who committed violations, but impunity continued to be a problem. The security forces were accused of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Below are excerpts from the report:

“Although the constitution prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, security forces continued to engage in such practices with impunity and with the implicit support of officials affiliated with ZANU-PF. Police used excessive force in apprehending, detaining, and interrogating criminal suspects. According to NGOs, security forces reportedly assaulted and tortured citizens in custody, including perceived opponents of ZANU-PF. In some cases police arrested the victims of violence and charged victims with crimes instead of perpetrators.

Human rights groups reported the continuance of physical and psychological torture perpetrated by security agents and ZANU-PF supporters. Reported torture methods included beating victims with sticks, clubs, whips, cables, and sjamboks (a heavy whip); burning; falanga (beating the soles of the feet); use of electric shocks; solitary confinement; and sleep deprivation.

According to one NGO, from January through September, 155 persons sought treatment for injuries and trauma sustained from security force abuse, compared with 169 persons in 2014. During the same period, the NGO reported that 165 persons sought treatment for injuries and trauma sustained from abuse by ZANU-PF supporters, compared with 88 persons in 2014. Nearly 40 percent of the cases took place in Harare, and the vast majority of the victims were affiliated with the MDC-T.

In November 2014 police assaulted human rights lawyer Kennedy Masiye in Africa Unity Square in downtown Harare. Masiye represented Itai Dzamara and went to the square to investigate reports that police assaulted Dzamara. Upon entering the park and finding Dzamara unconscious, Masiye attempted to telephone for an ambulance. Uniformed police officers then ran in his direction, and although he produced his legal credentials, struck him with fists and batons. Masiye’s arm was broken during the beating.

Police occasionally used excessive force to disperse demonstrators, resulting in injuries. On April 17, police assaulted Sydney Chisi, a youth activist, during a demonstration in Harare against xenophobic violence in South Africa. Video of the event taken by a bystander clearly showed police officers striking Chisi repeatedly with batons while he lay helplessly on the ground. Chisi was briefly hospitalized and later filed criminal and civil cases against the officers involved.

ZANU-PF supporters–often with tacit support from police–continued to assault and mistreat scores of persons, including civil society activists and known Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and their families, especially in Harare neighborhoods and nearby towns. Violent confrontations between youth groups of the ZANU-PF (known as “Chipangano”) and the MDC-T, or the MDC-Ncube (MDC-N) continued, particularly in urban areas. ZANU-PF supporters were the primary instigators of political violence.

On April 23, ZANU-PF supporters attacked 13 MDC-T supporters, including Member of Parliament (MP) Costa Machingauta, in the Glen View suburb of Harare. The victims reported being attacked on their way to and from a rally addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai. Machingauta was hospitalized for three days for a head injury that required 21 stitches.

The courts punished some ZANU-PF supporters accused of political violence and ordered compensation to their victims. In April the High Court convicted seven ZANU-PF activists of the 2008 torture of seven MDC-T supporters and ordered them to pay a combined $11,000 (U.S. currency used in the country) in compensation.”

© Now Media 2016. All Rights Reserved.


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