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Amnesty International slams Zim’s plain clothes agents abductions , rights abuses

By Staff Writer

A recently released report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International has revealed that Zimbabwean authorities severely restricted freedoms of association and expression during the election period, using the judicial system to silence dissenting voices.

The report, titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2024” focused on the human rights situation in 155 countries.

Zimbabwe went to the polls in August last year with opposition supporters and members bearing the “brunt of widespread repression” – which included arbitrary detention, prosecution and further restrictions imposed by new legislation.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner of the plebiscite which the opposition declared as a “gigantic fraud” and election observer missions said was flawed.

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, expressed deep concern over the alarming human rights violations.

“Amnesty International’s report paints a dismal picture of alarming human rights repression and prolific international rule-breaking, all in the midst of deepening global inequality, superpowers vying for supremacy and an escalating climate crisis,” she said.

Read the report: “The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly were severely restricted, particularly during the election period.

“Opposition members, or those associated with the opposition, bore the brunt of the widescale repression of dissent, including arbitrary detention and prosecution.

“New legislation imposed further restrictions on and harsh penalties against activists and critics.

“Plain-clothes state agents abducted political activists, tortured them, and killed one man. At least one activist was reportedly killed by ruling party supporters.”

The report further shows notable cases of arrests of University students and civil society members, torture of activists and abductions by suspected state security agents.

“The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be threatened, especially during the general election period. Members of the main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), were the main targets of repression.

“Just over one month before election day, the President signed into law the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Act, 2022. It failed to meet the requirements of legality, proportionality and necessity in relation to the imposition by the authorities of penalties like loss of citizenship and the death penalty against people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights.

“It heightened the risk of arbitrary detention against those who expressed dissenting views, and contained overly broad provisions that criminalized participation in meetings.”

Amnesty International also indicated the killings of opposition members by suspected Zanu-PF supporters.

“Tinashe Chitsunge, a CCC activist, was reportedly stoned to death by ZANU-PF cadres in Glen View South, Harare, on 3 August. He was believed to have been attacked while trying to flee from a ZANU-PF mob who were attacking opposition activists at a rally.

“CCC activist Vutisani Mushiyi was admitted to Chiredzi Hospital after being attacked in the town of Chiredzi South, on 4 August by suspected ZANU-PF supporters. He claimed that he was attacked in retaliation for his refusal to quit as chairperson of the Chilonga Irrigation Scheme in Chiredzi South after a ZANU-PF parliamentary candidate had tried to make him do so,” mentioned the report.

Amnesty International’s report on Zimbabwe serves as a grave reminder of the urgent need to address human rights violations and restore the rule of law.

The organization calls for immediate action to protect the rights and dignity of individuals affected by these abuses and demands accountability for those responsible.

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