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
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
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