As Zimbabwe heads to the polls this weekend to vote on a proposed new constitution, Amnesty International urges the authorities to allow eligible civil society organizations to observe the process without harassment and intimidation.
Recent months have seen a clampdown on dissent as a number of civil society organizations have been raided by police and charged with spurious offences ranging from ‘causing malicious damage to property’ and ‘smuggling’ radios into the country.
An announcement last week by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission stated that organizations facing police investigations would be prevented from monitoring the referendum.
“The Zimbabwean authorities must stop this game playing and allow the referendum to take place in a context that ensures the internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.
“Previous polls in Zimbabwe have been marred by political violence and human rights abuses. Saturday offers the country a chance to prove it can make a break with the past.”