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 Amnesty International pleads for closure on Itai Dzamara’s disappearance

By Staff Writer

Human rights group Amnesty International says the government of Zimbabwe is obstructing efforts to find and bring closure to the disappearance of pro-democracy activist and journalist Itai Dzamara who was kidnapped nine years ago.

Dzamara who went missing on March 9 2015 after being bundled into a car by unidentified men in Harare’s Glen View suburb, is still to be accounted for with investigations over his disappearance shrouded in mystery.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Vongai Chikwanda said the government is impeding justice on Dzamara with its lackadaisical approach.

“Nine years after the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara, the Zimbabwean authorities continue to impede the delivery of justice, truth, and reparations. Their failure to launch an effective investigation into Dzamara’s disappearance sends the chilling message that activists seeking to demand accountability from the government are no longer safe,” said Chikwanda.

After the ascendancy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017, replacing longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, his government pledged to open investigations into Dzamara’s disappearance.

Years later, his disappearance has slipped into a cold case.

“Itai Dzamara’s family and friends have endured nine painful years waiting for truth and justice over his enforced disappearance. His family needs closure from the agonizing uncertainty they have been subjected to. The feeling of insecurity and fear that his disappearance has generated is not limited to his close relatives, but also affects the broader civil society community,” said Chikwanda further.

Dzamara gained prominence after staging numerous lone demonstrations against Mugabe, calling for his resignation.

Chikwanda said a Commission of Inquiry should be instituted to look into Dzamara’s disappearance.

“Amnesty International reiterates its call for the government to set up an independent, judge-led Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Dzamara’s abduction, with powers to subpoena witnesses.

“The findings must be made public and those suspected of criminal responsibility should be brought to justice in fair trials. Members of the public with information to contribute to the Commission through submissions must be allowed to do so and the authorities must ensure their safety and protection,” said Chikwanda.

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