Amnesty visit reveals state-sponsored terror campaign

A new Amnesty International report, Terror Tactics, examines how killings and torture are being carried out: - with the complicity of the government; - through lack of protection by the police of those at risk; - through a failure to conduct impartial investigations into abuses; - through direct involvement of state agents in killings; or - through verbal incitement of the perpetrators by members of the government including at the highest level.

Some of the most serious incidents of hostage-taking and torture took place in the first half of May in a doctor's surgery in Budiriro, a suburb of Harare, run by war veteran leader Dr Chenjerai 'Hitler' Hunzvi. It is reported that people were taken there to be tortured because of their alleged connections to the MDC opposition party. On 17 May one of the torture victims was killed by a group of people reportedly linked to the ruling ZANU-PF party while fleeing from the surgery.

Amnesty International's report details torture at the surgery that included applying live electrical wires to the genitals and arm pits, partial suffocation, piercing of the skin with metal tops and sustained beatings. Although victims reported their cases to the police, up until the 17 May killing police took no substantial action to curtail the use of the surgery as a site of torture.

Amnesty International UK's Communications Director Mark Lattimer said:

'Amnesty International's researchers were shocked to discover this chilling programme of state-sponsored terror.

'The Zimbabwean authorities now have a clear duty to investigate these and other killings and acts of violence and to act decisively to end the climate of intimidation in the run-up to the elections', he added.

The Terror Tactics report provides further information on these findings and recommendations ahead of the June elections.

Further information on human rights in Zimbabwe is available online.

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