Top rights group slates renewed abductions, calls for UN intervention

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By Thandiwe Garusa

A TOP rights group has come out in full condemnation of the reemergence of abductions on rights defenders and opposition activists by suspected State agents.

Addressing the media on Thursday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum also called on the United Nations and African regional blocs to condemn the excesses.

Zimbabwe has seen renewed cases of abductions and torture on government critics while opposition politicians have also been targeted for arrests linked to an alleged plot to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The incidents have spotlighted on Mnangagwa’s commitment to leading the troubled country into a break from its bitter past under former President Robert Mugabe.

“We call upon the SADC, the African Union, the United Nations and international community to condemn the unwarranted crackdown on civilians by the state,” forum chairperson Jestina Mukoko said while reading the rights group’s statement Thursday.

She added: “The Government of Zimbabwe has an obligation to respect human rights. The development so far point to a real risk that the people of Zimbabwe’s fundamental freedoms are once again in danger and this must be stopped before it gets out of control.”

The main opposition MDC has called for a massive demonstration against rising poverty levels in the country for this Friday.

Some activists who have fronted the push for democracy and good governance in the country have been summoned for questioning by police with some reportedly abducted, tortured and left for dead.

Said the NGO Forum chair, “We note that 6 people so far were abducted by suspected state agents in the evening of 13 and 14 August 2019, and they have been severely tortured and left for dead. One of the victims had a harmful caustic liquid poured in his body, the men accused the victims of being involved in organising the August 16 demonstrations.”

Mukoko, who is also Zimbabwe Peace Project director, said Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly states that no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture.

“The police have an obligation to maintain law and order and not to interfere with people’s enjoyment of human rights and the Defence forces whose role is to protect life and not take it,” she said.