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on "Who guards the guards?" Violations by Law Enforcement
Agencies in Zimbabwe, 2000-2006
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
December 11, 2006
Zimbabwe's police are major perpetrators
of human rights abuses, according to data collected by the Human
Rights NGO Forum.
The police have been named as torturers
and police premises as places of torture in hundreds of cases recorded
by the forum.
Senior police officers often carry
out torture, according to the report.
Since 2000 officers of the rank of sergeant or above have been named
as perpetrating torture in 59 cases. This refutes government excuses
that occasional abuses are carried out a few 'over-zealous' low-level
The politicised police force has often
refused the protection of the law to those identified as members
of the opposition or otherwise hostile to Zanu-PF. For these people
the law enforcement agencies have become "instruments of violence
against them rather than an institution that offers them protection,"
states the report.
The police and other perpetrators of
abuses often operate with impunity, not facing any legal responsibility
for their actions. This impunity allows abuses to continue.
A total of 20,624 violations of human
rights have been recorded in Zimbabwe since July, 2001, when the
Human Rights Forum began publishing statistics. These are the number
of cases, and in many there are several people abused, so the number
of individuals suffering abuse could be considerably higher. Since
2004, the number of total abuses has increased, from 2,656 in 2004,
to 4,170 in 2005 and 5,063 in 2006. The 2006 figures do not include
cases from October, November or December, so the year-end total
may well reach 7,000, according to the report.
"Most disturbing is that in 2006 torture
has again increased markedly," states the report which also
notes an "enormous increases in unlawful arrest and detention and
interference with freedoms, which largely correspond to the promulgation
and use of the Public
Order and Security Act (Posa)".
The forum has recorded more than 3,200
cases of torture since 2001. Reported cases of torture increased
from 136 in 2005 to 335 in 2006. Again, the 2006 figure does not
include incidents for October, November and December.
Abuses by police and other state agents
(army and CIO) have increased in 2006. "The involvement of state
agents in the alleged perpetration of gross human rights violations
has greatly increased, with the torture of members of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) being perhaps the most egregious
recent example," states the report.
Despite numerous complaints and reports,
by the Human Rights Forum and other organizations, the government
has taken "little remedial or preventative action. The Zimbabwe
Republic Police continue to be involved in human rights violations,
and, if anything, the abuses have become worse in the past three
The forum report urges the government
of Zimbabwe to fulfill its constitutional obligations to investigate
allegations of abuses. It also calls on the United Nations, the
African Union and the Southern African Development Community to
investigate the allegations of torture by police and other human
the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum fact
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