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IBAHRI calls for action to end police abuses
November 07, 2007
must take immediate steps to end abuses of police power, the International
Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) says in
a new report released today. Entitled, 'Partisan
Policing: An obstacle to human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe,'
the report asserts that police routinely commit serious violations
of human rights, subvert the rule of law and play a blatantly partisan
which follows a visit to Zimbabwe by a high-level delegation of
legal experts, cites wide abuses by the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP) that range from torture and arbitrary arrests to disobedience
of court orders and beatings and intimidation of lawyers. The delegation
interviewed representatives of government, the legal profession
and non-governmental organisations and gathered documentary evidence.
Among the key
findings of the report are that most of the victims of police abuses
are individuals deemed to be government opponents or critics and
that those responsible for abuses have been allowed to benefit from
almost absolute impunity. 'We found incontrovertible evidence
of police abuses being brought to the attention of the courts and
senior government officials, yet those responsible continue to benefit
from impunity,' said Professor DJ Titus, a member of the IBAHRI
delegation to Zimbabwe. 'The failure to investigate and prosecute
these serious violations of human rights shifts responsibility to
the highest levels of government.'
The report also
offers a disturbing portrait of judicial inaction in the face of
flagrant police abuses, charging that there is 'complacency
on the part of the courts in holding police to account.' It
concludes that the contempt shown by the police for judicial authority
is evidence of a 'grave constitutional crisis' and a
threat to 'the very foundations of the rule of law and the
administration of justice.'
report by the IBAHRI recommends measures to be taken by the Zimbabwean
authorities in order to curtail abuses and end impunity. It concludes
with recommendations to the international community, including a
call to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to ensure
that those engaged in the regional effort to resolve Zimbabwe's
political crisis tackle the problem of police abuses.
time when leaders of the SADC region are speaking about the need
to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe through democratic elections,
the brazen partisanship and lawlessness of the police gives rise
to the concern that police officers will be used to subvert the
electoral process,' remarked Professor Titus. He added, 'Without
accountable, impartial policing that protects human rights, it will
be difficult and perhaps impossible for the citizens of Zimbabwe
to participate freely in any democratic processes, including elections.'
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