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Intimidation and abuse of human rights campaigners continues
AFR 46/007/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 112
May 10, 2005
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today called on the Zimbabwe Government to end five years' of harassment
and repression of human rights campaigners.
"Hundreds of ordinary Zimbabweans, who have fought to protect the
rights of their fellow citizens, have faced intimidation, arbitrary
arrest, assault and torture at the hands of a government intent
on concealing its violation of human rights. The government must
ensure that those responsible for all human rights violations, including
against human rights campaigners, are brought to justice and laws
that violate international human rights standards are repealed,"
said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of the Africa programme.
In a new report, Zimbabwe: Human rights defenders under siege,
Amnesty International documents the misuse of state power to prevent
human rights campaigners from exposing human rights abuses and publicly
criticising the government.
The report contains examples of numerous violations directed at
human rights campaigners, including:
- The involvement
of the Zimbabwe police in several cases of serious assault on
human rights campaigners and a failure to bring those responsible
- The arbitrary
arrest of hundreds of human rights campaigners, including a two-year
persecution of the women’s activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise;
government attacks on the independence of judges and lawyers with
repeated harassment and assault forcing several to resign or retire;
- Use of repressive
media laws to close down independent newspapers;
- The revival
of repressive laws introduced under the white minority regime
of Ian Smith, such as the Private Voluntary Organisations Act;
- The introduction
of the NGO Bill, which bans international human rights organisations
from operating in Zimbabwe and severely restricts the work of
national human rights groups;
- Use of state-controlled
media to intimidate human rights campaigners and discredit the
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its recently
published report on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
calls on the Zimbabwe Government to immediately end the harassment
of human rights campaigners and to repeal all legislation that violates
international human rights standards. The Government must also ensure
the independent investigation of all cases of police assault,
torture, unlawful arrest and detention and bring to justice those
"This sustained attack on Zimbabwe’s human rights campaigners speaks
volumes about the length to which the government will go to cover
up human rights abuses and prevent criticism of its actions. The
African Commission has also called on the Zimbabwe Government to
repeal legislation used to obstruct the work of human rights campaigners.
It is high time the government fully implemented the recommendations
of the African Commission's report," said Kolawole Olaniyan.
the video entitled "Zimbabwe Human Rights Defenders Under
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