Law Society condemns human rights abuse in Zimbabwe

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HARARE-The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has said that the government’s response to allegations of arbitrary arrests, abductions and torture of citizens has been disproportionate inadequate, TSTnews can report. 

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

In a statement seen by TSTnews, LSZ noted with concern the recent media reports of violence against citizens of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and Harare by alleged members of the Police Force. 

This publication understands that last week, Harare West Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe and party colleagues, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri were brutally assaulted by suspected State security agents after they were arrested at a police roadblock in Harare and later snatched from the hands of the police to be subjected to the callous acts.

On the 16th of April 2020, Nokuthula Mpofu and Ntombizodwa Mpofu were allegedly assaulted by police officers purporting to enforce lockdown regulations in Bulawayo. 

TSTnews also understands that the assaults in Bulawayo were, according to the reports, not only physical, but were accompanied by verbal abuse of a tribal nature.

“Such behaviour coming from a national police service has no place in a peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe.Such elements in a professional police force should be investigated swiftly and transparently. The assaults echo the general but worrisome manner of the conduct of some law enforcement officers in enforcing the lockdown regulations. 

“While the Law Society of Zimbabwe takes note of reports that the matter is being investigated and that some officers have been arrested, the Society calls upon the State to ensure that the matter is thoroughly, credibly and transparently investigated and prosecuted. Furthermore, it is the State’s duty to ensure that sufficient safeguards for the protection of citizens are put in place.

“Worryingly there are similar reports that on the 13th of May 2020 Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova after being arrested by alleged members of the police force, abducted and were later found dumped in rural Bindura having been severely tortured and sexually assaulted. Prior to their discovery, efforts by their legal practitioners to locate them, were fruitless.

“These reports have to an extent been corroborated by a Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) report which undertook an independent investigation into the reports. The Law Society is particularly worried that in the face of such grave allegations the response by the State has been disproportionate inadequate given the gravity of the situation,” read the LSZ statement.

LSZ has called President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to discharge its constitutional duties and do the following:

1. Timiously, transparently and credibly investigate and prosecute all cases of violence.

2. Without delay, establish an independent complaints mechanism against members of the security services in terms of section 210 of the Constitution.

3. Ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

4. Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Meanwhile, TSTnews has received a statement by MDC Alliance Youth Assembly National Spokesperson Stephen Sarkozy Chuma who castigated government for sending heavily armed police to besiege homes and arrest every known MDC Alliance Youth leaders and activists.

“Since the exposure of the regime’s lies over abduction of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, the state security agents for the past week has been harassing activists and besieging our homes heavily armed in an operation to indiscriminately arrest every known MDC Alliance Youth leaders and activists.

“Just this week, the paranoid regime besieged Harare Youth Chairman, Stanley Manyenga’s residence, arrested him and charged him with trumped up charges for participating in a demonstration in Warren Park,” Chuma said.

Chuma also told TSTnews that “this week, the panic stricken regime besieged female activist, Taurai Nyamanhindi’s Zengeza residence heavily armed with AK 47s on a mission yet to be established. Luckily, Nyamanhindi was not at her home.”

“By its very own admission, ZRP issued a ‘wanted dead or alive’ tag on MDC Alliance Youth Assembly National Chairman, Obey Luther Sithole, SG Gift Siziba and several National Executive youth leaders.

“As if the abduction and torture was not horrendous enough, the regime again intends to re-arrest Chimbiri, Mamombe and Marova on trumped up charges,” Chuma added.

TSTnews this week reported that the Heads of Mission of European Union and the United States of America have issued a joint statement on human rights situation in Zimbabwe, encouraging the government to expedite investigations.