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letter from AI's Secretary General Irene Khan to President Robert
AI Index: AFR 46/006/2007 (Public)
March 20, 2007
I am writing
to express my grave concern about the killing of Gift TANDARE, shot
dead on 11 March 2007 by riot police while protesting the ban of
public meetings. The ban was imposed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP) from 20 February to 20 May 2007.
I am also gravely
concerned by the reported torture of Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and civil society leaders and supporters, including Morgan
TSVANGIRAI, Lovemore MADHUKU, Sekai HOLLAND and Grace KWINJE, following
their arrest and detention at Machipisa Police Station and other
police stations on Sunday, 11 March 2007 in Harare, after they attempted
to attend a meeting organised to protest a police ban of a prayer
meeting. The meeting was organised by the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of religious and civic organisations,
in Highfields, Harare.
50 activists, including leaders and supporters of the MDC and civil
society, were arrested either at the venue of the prayer meeting
or on their way to it, and detained. They were severely beaten during
arrest and while in police custody. Many suffered broken limbs.
is also disturbed by reports that three people were later shot by
police at Tandare's funeral wake in Glen View on 13 March.
Police reportedly fired randomly at the mourners. Two of the three,
Nhamo RUSERE and Dickson MAGONDO, were shot and needed hospitalisation,
while a third, Naison MASHAMBANHAKA was grazed on the arm by a police
bullet, and was not hospitalised. However, when Naison Mashambanhaka
went back to the funeral wake later that day he was shot a second
time on the same arm.
has repeatedly failed to investigate reported torture and excessive
use of force by the police and to bring to justice suspected perpetrators.
I am also deeply
concerned by the reported failure by police to comply with a High
Court Order compelling police to facilitate the lawyers of those
detained access to their clients as well as access to health care.
Amnesty International has documented in the past cases where police
disregarded court orders thereby effectively denying victims of
human rights violations protection of the law.
believes that the three-month ban from 20 February to 20 May 2007
on demonstrations and public meetings is in breach of Zimbabwe's
obligations to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression,
association and assembly, enshrined in international and regional
human rights treaties to which Zimbabwe is a party, including the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African
Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. The ban is also in breach
of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the very law that was cited to justify
the implementation of such ban, Section 27 of the Public
Order and Security Act, stipulates that public demonstrations
can only be prohibited for a specified period 'not exceeding
is deeply concerned that Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland, who were
reportedly tortured by police following the events of 11 March 2007,
have been prevented from seeking further medical attention in South
Africa on Saturday 17 March 2007, when they were prevented from
boarding an air ambulance and forcibly taken from Harare International
Airport to Harare Central Police Station. There, their travel documents
were confiscated and an ambulance was instructed to take Kwinje
and Holland back to hospital where they were placed under police
On Sunday 18
March 2007, Nelson Chamisa, national spokesperson for the MDC who
was also beaten by police on Sunday 11 March, was attacked at Harare
International Airport sustaining a fractured right orbit and a sub-conjunctival
haemorrhage (under the lining of the eye) as well as multiple lacerations
on the face.
is deeply concerned that the government of Zimbabwe has repeatedly
failed to protect and respect the rights of citizens to engage in
peaceful demonstration and to enjoy freedom of expression, assembly
and association. The government has also failed to implement the
recommendations contained in the resolution adopted by African Commission
on Human and Peoples' Rights in November 2005 as well as those
contained in the report of its 2002 Fact Finding Mission.
The events that
started on 11 March represents a further deterioration of the human
rights situation in Zimbabwe and require that the government take
effective measures to bring to an end the ongoing and grave human
rights violations. I therefore call on you to:
lift the ban on public meetings imposed by police on 20 February
- End the
human rights violations by the police and other law enforcement
officials and ensure that police officers abide by the highest
standards of professionalism and respect for human rights. The
Government of Zimbabwe must cease to use the police and other
law enforcement officials for political purposes, including for
the suppression of peaceful public assemblies and the persecution
of opposition parties and human rights defenders.
- Ensure that
the police conduct their duties in a manner consistent with respect
for internationally and regionally recognised standards of human
rights and policing, without discrimination. Police officers should
operate in a manner consistent with international human rights
law and standards, including the Southern African Regional Police
Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct for
Police Officials, Article 1 of which states that: "In the
performance of their duties, police officials shall respect and
protect human dignity and maintain and uphold all human rights
for all persons".
an immediate, impartial and independent investigation of the killing
by riot police of Gift Tandare on 11 March, the shootings of three
people by police on 13 March and allegations of excessive use
of force by police while dispersing demonstrators attempting to
attend the public meeting on 11 March. Those suspected to be responsible
must be brought to justice.
an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into the
allegations of torture of MDC and civil society leaders and their
supporters. Those suspected to be responsible must be brought
to justice without further delay.
I would very
much appreciate being informed of the measures that the Zimbabwean
authorities would take to address the matters raised in this letter.
I have also written about these matters to the Minister of Home
Affairs, the Hon. Kembo Mohadi.
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