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ZIMCET statement on police brutality
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET)
February 19, 2007

The Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) would like to register great concern over the blatant disregard of the law by the police when they clashed with MDC Anti-senate faction supporters in Highfields on Sunday 18 February. The supporters were converging for a rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds near Machipisa Shopping Centre when the police pounced. The rally was being held after the High Court granted the party permission to do so but the police claimed that they did not have manpower "to provide security". Hence they cancelled the rally causing the supporters to go on a rampage and the police retaliating with teargas canisters and baton sticks.

ZIMCET deplores the impunity that the policed displayed by defying a High Court Order when they are supposed to be custodians of the law. In disturbing an authorised rally, police showed complete disregard for the rule of law and showed themselves to be above the law. ZIMCET calls upon the powers that be in the law enforcement department to respect court decisions. Their defence that they did not have sufficient manpower fails to hold since they proceeded to field hundreds of police and riot police details to quell the disturbance which spilled over to the neighbouring location of Glen Norah.

The conduct of the police was highly deplorable in that they even invaded a beer hall at the shopping centre and manhandled patrons. As a result, chaos became the order of the day as hooligans took advantage of the situation and started looting shops and open markets.

ZIMCET believes that such havoc could have been avoided had the police heeded the High Court ruling. It is essential that court rulings are respected and upheld and infringements should be severely punished despite who the offender is. Deterrent penalties should be meted out such that state agencies do not discharge their duties in a partisan manner. ZIMCET therefore calls for the expedited formulation of a properly constituted Human Rights Commission which would be capable of effectively dealing with such cases of human rights abuses.

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