Amnesty International urges swift probe on citizen abuses by armed forces

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By Staff Reporter

WORLD rights lobby, Amnesty International, has called on Zimbabwean authorities to move with speed to ensure the prosecution of persons within the country’s security forces fingered for killings, rape and other heinous acts against citizens since last week.

This follows a state crackdown on those linked to last week’s deadly citizen protests against fuel price increases and rising poverty.

“The onslaught by the security forces in Zimbabwe has seen people killed, arbitrarily arrested, abducted, reportedly raped and jailed on suspicion of taking part in the protests.

“Children as young as 11 years old have been detained on frivolous charges,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa in a Friday statement.

The protests coincided with a three week job stay away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and some civic groups.

Army, police and state security agents deployed to quell the skirmishes responded with fire power leading to the death of 12 with nearly 70 left hospitalised for gunshot wounds.

There have also been rampant beatings, torture and dragnet arrests on those accused of taking part in the anti-government protests.

Up to 700 people, including minors, have been detained after being linked with the protests.

Said Amnesty International regional director, “The Zimbabwean authorities must immediately halt their menacing threats towards civil society leaders, activists, opposition leaders and suspected organisers of protests.

“The authorities must ensure that those who violated and continue to violate human rights face justice.”

During the stay away, government also blocked the internet in attempts to cut the flow of communication among protesters throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the courts have taken a tough stance on those arrested with many denied bail while mass trials have been conducted in many instances.

Some people still nursing injuries were snatched from hospitals and taken into police custody prepared for trial.

Said Muchena, “A Zimbabwe that is prosperous and based on the rule of law will never be built by brutalizing dissent. The authorities must immediately stop this merciless crackdown on activists, civil society leaders and others who are guilty of nothing more than exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has described abuses on citizens by security forces as unacceptable as he pledged to investigate the allegations.

Mnangagwa has also condemned the violent protests by citizens.