ZPP records over 4 000 rights violations


Sindiso Mhlophe

THE just ended month of June witnessed a sharp increase in human rights violations, with over 4 000 cases being recorded, a report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has revealed.

This comes as the country is currently on a national lockdown introduced to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with members of the security forces playing an active role in enforcing adherence to the regulations of the lockdown.

In its report, the human rights watchdog indicated that in addition to worsening economic conditions in the country, citizens were being subjected to rights violations under the pretext of enforcing lockdown regulations.

“In Zimbabwe, the winter season peaks in the month of June. But far from the usual cold weather the month brings, Zimbabweans across the country experienced a worsening economic situation characterised by price increases and inflation.

“On the human rights front, the situation was no better, as the country continued to find itself sliding further into an undoubted military state as confirmed by the prevalence of human rights violations perpetrated by the police and the army with artless impunity,” read the report.

“For one Zimbabwean from Harare, who made a contribution while narrating an ordeal in the hands of the police, the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown measures in April have meant nothing more than an excuse for the State to descend on its citizens with ruthless abandon.

“Her ordeal is the story of many Zimbabweans, who according to Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) human rights monitoring records of June 2020, make up 4 211 of those who experienced harassment and intimidation, attempted abduction, torture, rape and sexual assault, attempted murder, displacement, unlawful detention and malicious damage to property.’’

Recently, United Nations (UN) experts slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government over its reported pattern of disappearances and torture, saying that they appear to be aimed at suppressing protests and dissent.

“The continuing trend of the police and the army being the chief perpetrators of human rights violations confirm that this is not just isolated incidents, but rather, a systematic and unfortunate regression of Zimbabwe into fully fledged repression, where citizens live in fear of the same agents they should look up to for protection.’’

The ZPP further said that the rights violations witnessed in June were an indication that Zimbabwe was sliding into full autocracy, characterised by artless arrests and abduction.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi indicated that the police were doing their job in ensuring that citizens adhere to lockdown measures, rather than violating people’s rights.

“The coronavirus is a real threat and as the police it is our duty to ensure that people adhere to the lockdown regulations. We will continue enforcing the necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus and as usual we always tell members of the public to come to us if they have any complaints with regards to how the police interact with them when discharging their duties,” Nyathi said.

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