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Law society says government has bred a culture of violence
Clemence Manyukwe, The Financial Gazette (Zimbabwe)
December 20, 2006

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government has bred a culture of impunity that has encouraged the torture of trade unionists and the illegal detention of business executives, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) said in its annual report.

The organisation said it had been alarmed by the President's public backing of beatings of the unionists following a foiled demonstration in September.

But the LSZ also said the opposition was incompetent in the face of escalating human
rights violations.

"The encouragement from the President of Zimbabwe could only strengthen the culture of impunity which is prevalent in Zimbabwe . . . instead of apologizing to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the executive attempted to minimize and justify the attacks," Joseph James, outgoing president of the LSZ, said in a report released after the society's annual general meeting on Monday.

James said that a business community that had previously been critical of those in opposition to the government "felt the full brunt of the government's power" through arrests and detentions for alleged price control violations.

"It is clear that these exercises by the police are unnecessary, uncalled for and are encouraged by the pervasive culture of impunity," said the report.

The report criticised a series of new repressive legislation tabled in Parliament this year, such as the Interception of Communications Bill, the Suppression of Terrorism Bill - which was withdrawn - the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Gazetted Law (Consequential Provisions) Act.

The LSZ said only an independent judiciary could now protect citizens:
"In Zimbabwe the opposition is ineffectual, and the legislature is an extension of the executive. It is therefore especially important that a strong and independent judiciary protects the ordinary citizen."

On a rare positive note, the society praised judge president Rita Makarau "for making a positive and public effort to improve the administrative system."

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