2 September 2014
   
New Zimbabwe Header
Zanu PF faction wants Mugabe out, Gumbo
No big name takers for Tsvangirai offer
Jukwa: Cops want to visit Google in US
Vendors sell expired contraceptive pills
Canada: Student killed celebrating his 31st
Air Zim needs $340m for new wings
Thieves break into Chief Justice's office
Lesotho: No SADC troops, PM returns
MORE NEWS
Amplats to triple Zimbabwe production
Losses widen at Mpofu’s Allied Bank
MORE BUSINESS
Charamba’s new album finally out
Apple confirms iPhone 6 launch
MORE SHOWBIZ
Zim prove potential with Australia win
Chiredzi face Dynamos as league resumes
MORE SPORTS
Succession planning Bob’s tragic failure
2018: The Zimbabwe we can, must have
MORE OPINION
 
Jesuit Pope and re-uniting Christianity
No attack on Charismatic churches
MORE COLUMNISTS
 
 
US envoy slams selective law enforcement
15/02/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Law enforcement concern ... Bruce Wharton
 
RELATED STORIES
NGO’s not enemies of State, Zanu PF told
ZEC refuses to lift ZimRights poll ban
Rights groups threaten referendum boycott
Rights groups blast police crackdown
Activist Mukoko arrested, charged
Police keen to question Mukoko: Chihuri
Police raid ‘pirate’ radio station

UNITED States Ambassador Bruce Wharton has accused the police of engaging “in a clear pattern of harassment through arbitrary detentions” but urged rights groups to use “established means” to protest instead of resorting to “illegal activities.”

Writing on his Facebook wall Friday, President Barack Obama’s man in Harare warned that selective policing and public defiance of laws seen as “unjust and unfair” by sections of the society could lead the country into a “counterproductive cycle of instability”.

“Since November, we have seen elements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police engage in a clear pattern of harassment through arbitrary detentions, politically-motivated searches, and arrests on spurious charges against individuals and entities that are operating within the law,” Wharton said.

“At the same time, the distorted political environment of the past decade has created an environment in which sectors of society reject what they see as unjust and unfair laws and therefore act intentionally in violation of the law. Together, these two dynamics threaten to trap Zimbabwe in a counterproductive cycle of instability.”

Wharton’s remarks followed allegations police had tear-gassed and baton-charged scores of women activists marching for peace in Bulawayo on Friday.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leader Jenni Williams said her group marched to government buildings in the city to peacefully voice concerns about women's rights in the proposed new constitution, which will be voted on in a national referendum.

She said they were however, dispersed with "indiscriminate use of force" by the police adding that passers-by and crying children had to flee the tear gas fired by police.

Wharton said he was concerned about the police response to the demonstration.

“As President Obama’s representative here, I am deeply concerned about the pattern of harassment of civil society organizations and the use of violence against civilians by elements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police – such as occurred against protestors from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) yesterday in Bulawayo,” he said.

Rights groups also condemned the police response adding it cast doubt on the country's ability to hold credible constitutional referendum and fresh elections.

"Zimbabwe is entering a critical period in its democratization process and these blatant attempts to silence and intimidate critics must end," said Amnesty's Southern Africa director Noel Kututwa.



Advertisement

But Wharton said rights groups should consider using “established means” to change laws they are not happy with instead of engaging in “illegal” activities.

“When citizens disagree with the laws of their communities, they should first work to change them through established means, not by engaging in illegal actions to impose their own way,” he said.

“Zimbabwe will be stronger when the full rights of citizens to gather and demonstrate peacefully are respected and protected, and when citizens are assured of and respect the responsibilities of a professional, non-partisan police force.”


 
Email this to a friend Printable Version Discuss This Story
Share this article:

Digg it

Del.icio.us

Reddit

Newsvine

Nowpublic

Stumbleupon

Face Book

Myspace

Fark
 
 
 
comments powered by Disqus
 
RSS NewsTicker