In response to allegations that Zimbabwean police shot and killed two people during clashes that were sparked by a government ban on minibus drivers entering Harare’s financial district, Amnesty International’s Zimbabwe Director, Cousin Zilala, said:
“The Zimbabwean government must immediately instruct the police to show restraint and refrain from using excessive force, in particular against unarmed protesters. The authorities must promptly order an independent and impartial investigation into the killings, and prosecute any police officers proven responsible for unlawful actions or human rights violations.
“Zimbabweans have a right to go about their daily lives without the threat of unnecessary or excessive force from the police, who have a duty to act with caution in all confrontational situations, in order to protect lives.
“Under international law and standards, law enforcement officials must only resort to the use of force where unavoidable, in a manner that is proportionate to the seriousness of the situation. Firearms may only be used in self-defence or the defence of others from imminent threat or serious injury.”
The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.
Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.
The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.
In response to the dropping of subversion charges against Zimbabwean Pastor and activist, Evan Mawarire, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:
“The dismissal of this case affirms Amnesty’s long-held position that Pastor Mawarire was an innocent victim of Mugabe’s ruthless campaign to criminalize dissent.
“Hopefully the ruling signals a new beginning for the country, where the political repression which characterized Mugabe’s rule will no longer be tolerated.
“The task for President Mnangagwa now is to ensure that a culture exists in Zimbabwe in which voices from outside his government are free to air their opinions on an equal platform, without fear of facing criminal charges.”
Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe” on 31 January 2017. He was later released on USD 300 bail.
Founder of the #Thisflag movement, he led several anti-government protests in 2016 against corruption, human rights violations and the declining economy in the country.
Responding to the news that Robert Mugabe has resigned as President of Zimbabwe, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:
“After more than three decades of violent repression, the way forward for the country is to renounce the abuses of the past and transition into a new era where the rule of law is respected and those who are responsible for injustices are held to account.
“During 37 years of President Mugabe’s leadership, tens of thousands of people were tortured, forcibly disappeared or killed. President Mugabe condoned human rights violations, defended criminal actions of his officials and allowed a culture of impunity for grotesque crimes to thrive.
“Although Zimbabwe invested heavily in social services in the early years of independence, much of this progress was wiped out by later events such as the Operation Murambatsvina forced evictions campaign of 2005, which destroyed the homes or livelihoods of 700,000 people.
In response to the military takeover and subsequent control of certain streets of the capital city Harare and the state-run broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said:
“At this tense time, it is essential that the military ensure the safety and security of all people in Zimbabwe – regardless of their political allegiance - and refrain from any action that puts lives and human rights at risk.
“Military officials must uphold human rights, including the right to liberty, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The free flow of information – through the media and social media - must be guaranteed.
“The military takeover should not be used as an excuse to undermine Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments.”
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Sibusiso Moyo announced the military takeover. He said that said they were targeting people around President Robert Mugabe who had caused “social and economic suffering” to bring them to justice.
In response to the arrest of Newsday journalist Kenneth Nyangani for reporting that first lady Grace Mugabe and officials from the ruling ZANU-PF party donated used clothes, including night dresses and underwear, to the party’s supporters in Mutare, Cousin Zilala, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe said:
“The arrest of Kenneth Nyangani is a deliberate tactic to harass and intimidate him and other journalists in order to deter them from doing their work. The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths.
“Zimbabwean journalists should not be criminalized simply for doing their work. Kenneth Nyangani must be released immediately and unconditionally and all charges against him dropped.”
For more information please contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Zimbabwean authorities must drop all politically motivated charges against human rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire and stop using the criminal justice system to harass and intimidate him for his activism, Amnesty International and Civicus said today after the Harare High Court granted him bail and ordered his release on 9 February.
Upon his return to Zimbabwe last week, he was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national Flag of Zimbabwe” in connection with protests he led in 2016 over corruption and economic decline.
“Pastor Evan Mawarire is being subjected to political persecution through the courts for exercising his freedom of expression. His continued persecution has a chilling effect on peaceful activism in Zimbabwe,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“The release of Pastor Evan Mawarire on bail is not enough, the politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn. The state cannot continue to harass and intimidate him simply for standing up for human rights.”
The government of Zimbabwe must respect a court ruling overturning the ban on protests in the country, Amnesty International said today, as the High Court issued its verdict allowing public demonstrations.
“Today’s High court decision is a victory for Zimbabwe’s constitutional principles. It sends a clear message to the authorities that the right to protest, as enshrined in the country’s constitution, cannot just be stripped away by the state on a whim,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“Zimbabwe’s authorities must respect and obey today’s ruling and allow people to assemble and raise their grievances, as long as they are doing it within the confines of the laws that govern public protests.”
Today’s ruling comes after President Robert Mugabe publicly threatened the country’s judges on 3 September accusing them of being reckless by allowing demonstrations in the country.
The brutal assault by Zimbabwe's state security agents on the brother of the abducted pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara must be urgently and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.
State security agents punched and beat Patson Dzamara with batons and later forced him to drink about four litres of water after he staged a peaceful demonstration at Independence Day celebrations attended by President Robert Mugabe on 18 April at Harare's National Sports Stadium.
Patson Dzamara held up a placard reading “Independent but not free – where is my brother Itai” near a VIP tent when up to 10 security agents set upon him.
“The brutal attack on Patson Dzamara for simply lifting a placard is yet further evidence that the Zimbabwean government is prepared to lash out at anyone highlighting its appalling human rights record,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
The absolute failure of the police to account for the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara, a pro-democracy activist and critic of President Mugabe’s government, highlights the culture of impunity for human rights violations in Zimbabwe, said Amnesty International on the anniversary of his abduction.
“It has been a year since Itai Dzamara was disappeared without a trace, leaving his family in agonizing uncertainty about his fate and whereabouts. This appears to be a well-orchestrated plot to silence a well-known government critic, and is a deeply troubling indictment of the state of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“The authorities must initiate a genuine search for Itai Dzamara’s safe return while establishing a full and impartial judge led commission of inquiry into the circumstances of his disappearance.”
The detention of three journalists arrested for publishing a story linking senior police officers to a poaching syndicate is a shocking attempt to threaten freedom of the press, said Amnesty International today, as it called for their immediate release.
The editor of the state-controlled The Sunday Mail, Mabasa Sasa, investigations editor Brian Chitemba and journalist Chinawo Farawo were arrested on 2 November 2015. They were charged with “publishing falsehoods” after implicating some senior police officers as part of a group behind elephant killings in Hwange National Park. They are set to appear in court tomorrow.
“Arresting journalists on the basis of ‘publishing falsehoods’ has a chilling effect that may restrict the ability of the media to expose alleged criminal activities by the authorities,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“These actions create a climate of fear in Zimbabwe and perpetuate impunity.”
Released Wednesday 22 July 2015 at 00:01 CAT
• Authorities must declare formal moratorium on executions as first step towards abolition
• 95 prisoners remain on death row in Zimbabwe
A 10-year hiatus in executions is a milestone for the protection of the right to life and the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe, said Amnesty International as the country marked a decade without executions.
Although the country carried out its last execution on 22 July 2005, there are still 95 prisoners on death row. Amnesty International is now calling on Zimbabwe to declare an official moratorium on executions and totally abolish the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
“Ten years without an execution is a notable milestone on the road to the abolition of the death penalty, but the shadow of the gallows still looms for 95 prisoners currently on death row in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
Released 00:01 CAT Wednesday 20 May 2015
The Zimbabwean government’s continuing stranglehold on community radio and its refusal to issue licences to all but commercial operators with links to state-owned companies or those with government ties is a ploy to stifle freedom of expression, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.
‘Beyond Tokenism: The need to license community radio stations in Zimbabwe’ also details the crackdown on those who have been campaigning for the licensing of community radio stations, in line with the country’s constitution. The police have arrested them, and state security agents have subjected them to surveillance, harassment and intimidation.
“Despite promises and laws enacted more than 14 years ago to free up the airwaves for much needed community radio services, the government of Zimbabwe has failed to deliver on its promises and commitments,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
The beating of peaceful protesters, including a prominent human rights activist, by Zimbabwean Police shows a complete disregard for the rule of law and a culture of impunity, said Amnesty International today.
The organization is calling on the government to conduct an immediate, full, transparent and impartial investigation after dozens of police were captured on video beating up human rights activist Sydney Chisi with batons earlier today.
“The brutal beating of Sydney Chisi by anti-riot police is abhorrent. It is against international standards on policing of peaceful demonstrations. This must stop,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Sydney Chisi was one of scores of protesters demonstrating outside the South African embassy in Harare against xenophobic violence in South Africa, where Zimbabweans, and other foreign nationals, have been targeted.
Sydney Chisi was admitted in hospital and treated for injuries sustained during the beating. Several other protesters were also injured.