By Alois Vinga
THE European Union (EU) says Zimbabwe’s deteriorating human rights situation continues to frustrate its efforts to land meaningful support towards the troubled country.
In a latest update containing details of its General Debate information, the western bloc observed the situation has “significantly deteriorated in Zimbabwe with multiple reports of arbitrary detention, harassment, torture and inhuman treatment”.
EU criticised government over restrictions on access to justice, targeting of journalists and other government critics.
The bloc said the detention of untried prisoners in a maximum security prison together with convicted criminals suggested a serious violation of the principle of presumption of innocence.
It was referring to the detention last month, of independent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison when they were supposed to be in remand prison.
The two face charges of inciting violence against government ahead of the foiled July 31 national protests which were organised by the opposition and backed by civil society.
EU observed that public declarations inciting disrespect, hatred or violence towards various parties including churches, civil society actors and representatives of diplomatic missions have also contributed to increased tensions and risks to individuals’ enjoyment of human rights.
“The EU reiterates our ambition to support Zimbabwe in implementing concrete political and economic reforms, but for these reforms to stand the test of time, they require an environment ensuring an inclusive national dialogue,” said the bloc.
The coalition said there was need for Zimbabwean authorities to allow citizens to exercise all their rights, including their freedoms of assembly, association and expression.
EU said the Covid-19 pandemic should not be used by government as an excuse to limit the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms among citizens.
The remarks come at a time several nations across the globe have piled pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to respect citizen rights.