Mugabe regime steps up the heat
By HENDRICKS CHIZHANJE
President Robert Mugabe’s administration has intensified repression against perceived opponents despite a reprimand by the Southern Africa Development Community in March.
Influential human rights group, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), says since the summit of SADC leaders in Livingstone, Zambia, more than 200 people have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, arrest and selective prosecution, despite a demand by the regional leaders for an end to such acts.
Harrison Nkomo, a member of ZLHR, told journalists at a press conference convened by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in Johannesburg on Thursday ahead of the weekend extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe, that the organisation had recorded cases where 204 people had either been arbitrary arrested or detained, or had been victims of selective and malicious prosecution. Of these, 183 were arrested, detained and or prosecuted while 21 people were subjected to attack or harassment requiring legal intervention.
Nkomo said between January and this month, 819 people had been subjected to harassment, arrests, detention or prosecution in Zimbabwe. The majority were charged with public violence, criminal nuisance or holding meetings without notifying the police.
“Most commonly used legislation is the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Public Order and Security Act.
“The trend is that victims of politically motivated violence report cases to the Zimbabwe Republic Police but are then arrested and charged instead of police seeking out and arresting the perpetrators. This is contributing to loss of public confidence in the police and perceptions of bias and partiality,” said Nkomo.
ZLHR said charges of criminal insult under the repressive Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, were on the increase – particularly charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe, while treason and subverting the government were also common.
The extraordinary summit, which finished yesterday, was held on the sidelines of a Comesa summit.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) on Friday launched two magazines exposing the use of violence and torture by Mugabe’s supporters against the party’s supporters.
Footprints of Abuse and The Case against Violence were launched ahead of the SADC’s extraordinary summit .
The party also opened a photo exhibition showing pictures of victims of violence perpetrated against the party’s supporters, including Tsvangirai, party secretary-general Tendai Biti and women. The MDC said the pictures chronicle state-sanctioned abuse against innocent civilians, the painful legacy of torture and the moral corruption of the perpetrators of the violence.
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