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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • "Walk the Talk": Zimbabwe must respect and protect fundamental freedoms during the 2013 harmonized elections
    Amnesty International
    July 12, 2013

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    On 31 July 2013, Zimbabwe will hold harmonised elections composed of local government, House of Assembly, Senate and president ial elections. These elections are being held in an environment in which fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are being restricted through harassment, intimidation and criminalization of legitimate work of human rights defenders, political activists and civil society organizations in general.

    The 2013 harmonized elections are the first to be held in Zimbabwe since the violent second round of presidential election held on 27 June 2008. In the run-up to the June 2008 election at least 200 people were killed, while thousands were tortured and beaten in a wave of political violence that engulfed the country from April to June 2008 with the acquiescence and in some cases with active involvement of the state security services.

    While the levels of violence over the past year leading to these elections have remained low, Amnesty International has documented systematic clampdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) carrying out election related activities including voter education, domestic election observation and those perceived to be critical of government policies have had their offices raided by police and equipment including computers seized whilst human rights defe nders have been unlawfully detained. Many are appearing before the courts facing charges that are widely considered to be politically motivated.

    Amnesty International is concerned that partisanship by some members of the country’s security services who have openly expressed their preferred outcome in the next election is directly undermining Zimbabwe’ s ability to realise its obligation to respect and protect internationally guaranteed civil and political rights in particular in the lead up to the coming elections. The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are also explicitly provided for in the country’s new constitution which was signed into law on 22 May 2013.

    Zimbabwe’s security chiefs on several occasions have been quoted in the state-controlled media openly making partisan statements which has resulted in loss of public confidence in their ability to discharge their services impartially during the election period. In recent months prominent member s of the security services have issued statements indicating their allegiance to ZANU-PF which, given the country’s history of state-sponsored violence during elections, is generating fear in those communities affected by the 2008 violence. Further more, during the ZANU-PF party primary elections in June 2013, some serving members of the security services contested as candidates in order to repres ent that political party in the forthcoming elections in apparent violation of Section 208 of the new constitution of Zimbabwe which prohibits the security services from taking part in partisan activities.

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