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    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.

    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.