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    August 14, 2014

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) should address human rights violations among its member states as part of measures to improve the lives of its people, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    As the 15 member states of SADC prepare to meet for the 34th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on August 17 and 18, 2014, the three human rights organizations drew attention to serious human rights concerns in Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will take over as chair of the regional body at the meeting.

    “SADC’s commitment to human rights will come into question if Zimbabwe, as chair of the regional body, does not expedite the process of aligning its laws with the constitution and state institutions do not live up to the regional and international best practices,” said Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Projects Manager, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

    May 30, 2014

    The protracted detention of two Zambian men accused of having sex is an affront to all who believe in fundamental human rights, equality and non-discrimination and they should be released immediately, said Amnesty International today.

    The Magistrate court in Kapiri Mposhi was due to deliver its verdict today on the case of James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, who have been held for over a year after being charged with having sex “against the order of nature”. But owing to delays by the state prosecutor, the case had been postponed to an unknown date. 

    “These men have already spent over a year in prison having been denied bail in a case where they are accused of something that should not be a crime. Locking up people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation is reprehensible and a clear breach of international law and justice” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    May 22, 2014

    Legislation restricting internationally recognized human rights is still in place in Zimbabwe, one year after the new Constitution was signed into law promising improved civil liberties for all, Amnesty International said today.

    “A year ago the people of Zimbabwe were celebrating a new Constitution which promised a much improved Declaration of Rights. Unfortunately, the government has since failed to amend or repeal all the laws rendered unconstitutional and continues to use these laws to repress people exercising their rights in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director of Southern Africa.

    Public order, security and criminal laws are being used to deny people their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, despite guarantees under the new Constitution.

    Amnesty International has documented numerous cases over the last year where meetings or activities have been barred and human rights defenders have been arrested and charged.

    In April alone nearly a dozen demonstrators and community activists were arrested for organizing and taking part in peaceful protests in Masvingo.

    November 25, 2013

    The Government of Zimbabwe must guarantee all human rights enshrined in the new Constitution, Amnesty International said in a Human Rights Agenda issued as President Robert Mugabe approaches the 100th day of his new term.

    In the report, Human Rights Agenda for the New Government – 2013 to 2018, the organization urges the Zimbabwean government to take significant steps to improve the country’s poor human rights record. It also must address impunity for past violations and provide remedies to victims.

    “There is no doubt that the new government will be judged on the basis of its human rights record and ability to improve the living conditions for everyone in the country,” says Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for the government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver justice for its people and to allow freedom of expression. With political will all that is possible.”

    November 22, 2013

    Today’s acquittal of a key Zimbabwean human rights defender is encouraging, but the fact that it comes after three years of harassment is further confirmation that the police continue to abuse the law to hamper the work of human rights defenders, Amnesty International said.

    Abel Chikomo, Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, was brought to court in 2011 on charges of running an ‘illegal’ organization after it conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb. The judge today found he “had no case to answer”.

    “Today’s ruling confirms what Amnesty International has said all along – the Zimbabwean authorities never had a legal leg to stand on when they brought Abel Chikomo to court,” said Aster van Kregten, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    “Bringing unfounded criminal charges against human rights defenders is one of the tools which have been consistently used to harass and intimidate Zimbabwe’s civil society.

    September 19, 2013

    Today’s acquittal of 21 human rights and opposition activists by Zimbabwe’s High Court leaves the authorities with serious questions to answer about police misconduct in the aftermath of a police officer’s murder, Amnesty International said.

    "This acquittal of the 21 activists is a positive development – Amnesty International has always believed that most, if not all, of the accused had been arrested as a result of a politicized investigation into the death of the police officer,” said Noel Kututwa, southern Africa director at Amnesty International.

    "This tragic loss of a police officer’s life could have been professionally investigated without the human rights violations that have now tainted it. Police investigations must be competent, thorough, prompt, and impartial.”

    Seven activists from Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) remain on trial over the murder of police officer Petros Mutedza in the Harare suburb of Glen View in 2011.

    August 12, 2013

    By Stephanie McBride, Zimbabwe coordinator, Amnesty International Canada (English)

    On the morning of July 31st, I woke up to messages of hope and optimism spread across my Facebook feed, my morning news, and my inbox. Many of my friends in Zimbabwe had posted statuses and updates about the elections that day, which would determine the composition of the House of Commons and the Senate as well as the future President of Zimbabwe.

    Very few incidents of violence were reported during or immediately after the elections. The chief of the African Union monitoring mission, Olusegun Obasanjo, stated that although “there are incidences that could have been avoided…we do not believe that these incidents will amount to the results not reflecting the will of the people.” Shortly before the announcement of a landslide victory for Robert Mugabe, who is reported to have captured 61% of the vote, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) announced that the election was a “huge farce.” He has since mounted a legal challenge of the election results and is now discussing a boycott of all government institutions.

    August 06, 2013

    Women political activists in rural Zimbabwe told Amnesty International they have been threatened with violence and forced to flee with their children for refusing to reveal their vote to supporters of Robert Mugabe's party during harmonized elections.

    The women said they resisted instructions from Zanu-PF supporters to feign illiteracy, blindness or physical injury, which would have meant someone else marking the ballot on their behalf,

    At least six women said they left home with their 12 young children after facing intimidation from village heads in Mukumbura district, Mashonaland Central Province soon after the 31 July poll.

    "It appears the ZANU-PF supporters wanted to ensure that these women did not vote for the other parties and tried to compromise the secrecy of the ballot," said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    "The Zimbabwean police must guarantee the safety of political activists in rural areas following these reports of politically motivated displacement. The authorities have a duty to investigate any threats of violence and ensure those responsible are brought to justice."

    July 12, 2013

    Zimbabwean police are continuing to target and intimidate human rights defenders ahead of elections later this month according to a new report by Amnesty International.

    Walk the Talk details how the police have conducted systematic raids on offices, arbitrarily arrested human rights defenders and seized equipment to intimidate and disrupt the work of organizations carrying out election related human rights work
    .
    “The clampdown on the work of human rights defenders is a worrying indicator that government agencies remain actively hostile to civil society,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Programme Director.

    “Zimbabwe’s security forces must respect and protect fundamental freedoms as the country prepares for a high stakes election at the end of July.”

    At the end of 2012, amid speculation that Zimbabwe would hold elections as early as March 2013, Amnesty International documented increased targeting of human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

    June 13, 2013

    Zimbabwe’s government must focus on protecting human rights in the run-up to elections, Amnesty International said today as the country’s leaders publicly disputed the date the vote should be held.

    “Whatever date is decided for the election, the government’s absolute priority must be making sure the violence that erupted during the 2008 vote is not repeated,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director.

    “All the rights enshrined in Zimbabwe’s new constitution must be respected by the security forces. This is especially important in view of the role they played in organizing violence against perceived political opponents of the then government in 2008.

    “The rights to freedom of assembly for all must be respected. Police must not arbitrarily apply provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to stop meetings of civil society groups and other political parties as has happened previously.

    June 13, 2013

    Southern African leaders must ensure human rights are prioritized in the run-up to elections in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said ahead of a key summit on the country.

    The Southern African Development Committee (SADC) meets Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique to review the electoral process in Zimbabwe, where a general election will be held before 31 July.

    “The SADC has played a critical role in easing the tension in Zimbabwe since the political violence of 2008. Now it has the duty to ensure that the coming elections are held in an environment free from human rights violations, including violence,” said Noel Kututwa Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Program Director.

    “Specifically, the SADC should immediately deploy human rights monitors to Zimbabwe to oversee the period before, during and after the elections."

    On 31 May, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court ruled that elections must be held before the end of July.

    May 22, 2013

    Zimbabwe’s new constitution presents a golden opportunity for the country to break away from a culture of impunity for human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    President Robert Mugabe today signed into law a new constitution, following a three-year constitution-making process to replace the Lancaster House constitution adopted at independence in 1980.

    “The new constitution is a positive development with the potential to increase ordinary people’s enjoyment of their basic rights,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International's Africa deputy director.

    “Not only is the world watching whether the country has truly turned the corner on this historic day, but millions of people in Zimbabwe hope that this new constitution will usher in a new political order where human rights are respected and protected.”

    The constitution-making process suffered ongoing delays and controversy, but March's referendum on the new constitution passed off relatively peacefully and resulted in an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote.

    May 10, 2013

    By Stephanie McBride, Amnesty International Canada’s Zimbabwe Coordinator

    When I lived in Zimbabwe last year, my friends and I would often talk politics. President Robert Mugabe had ruled the country for their entire lives. Our discussions focused on their frustration— frustration that genuine political engagement with civil society remained out of reach; frustration that public declarations and policy statements amounted to very little in practice; and frustration that the political process involved taking one step forward and two steps back.  

    A step forward was taken in March, when a national referendum led to the adoption of a new constitution. Citing a “peaceful, successful, and credible” referendum, the European Union terminated sanctions against 81 Zimbabwean officials, leaving only 10 people on the list, including President Robert Mugabe. The new constitution limits the President to two five-year terms and includes a bill of rights which stipulates freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

    March 21, 2013

    Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa must be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said after she was denied bail in a court appearance on Wednesday.

    Mtetwa was arrested on Sunday 17 March when she responded to a client whose home was being searched by police in Harare. She remained in custody despite a High Court order for her immediate release being issued at around 1am Monday morning.

    “Beatrice Mtetwa is the unfortunate victim of arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention and must be released immediately,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

    “It’s staggering that while Zimbabwe is in the process of adopting a new constitution which provides a stronger bill of human rights, lawyers in the course of their lawful duty are being so blatantly harassed and intimidated.”

    Beatrice Mtetwa responded to the call of a client, Thabani Mpofu, who is a staff member in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office, on Sunday morning during a police search of his home. When she arrived at the premises police were already conducting the search.

    March 20, 2013

    Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa must be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said after she was denied bail in a court appearance on Wednesday.

    Mtetwa was arrested on Sunday 17 March when she responded to a client whose home was being searched by police in Harare. She remained in custody despite a High Court order for her immediate release being issued at around 1am Monday morning.

    “Beatrice Mtetwa is the unfortunate victim of arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention and must be released immediately,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

    “It’s staggering that while Zimbabwe is in the process of adopting a new constitution which provides a stronger bill of human rights, lawyers in the course of their lawful duty are being so blatantly harassed and intimidated.”

    Beatrice Mtetwa responded to the call of a client, Thabani Mpofu, who is a staff member in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office, on Sunday morning during a police search of his home. When she arrived at the premises police were already conducting the search.

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