Violence against peaceful demonstrators must stop immediately

'Acts of violence create a climate of fear where individuals are

unable to excercise their rights to freedom of expression and

association,' Amnesty International said. 'This can also jeopardize the

prospect for free and fair elections.'

The international human rights organisation today calls on President

Robert Mugabe and Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa to publicly commit

themselves to ensure:

* respect for the right to freedom of expression in Zimbabwe;

* demonstrations are policed with the minimum use of force, in

accordance with international standards;

* police response to situations of potential or actual violence is

impartial and prompt, both in terms of law enforcement and investigations;

* police officers refrain from threatening or intimidating unarmed

and peaceful demonstrators in their exercise of the rights to freedom of

speech, assembly and association;

* an independent commission of enquiry is set up to identify the

perpetrators of Saturday's violence with the aim of bringing them to

justice.

Amnesty International will continue to monitor the human rights

situation in Zimbabwe in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary

elections. Though no date is set yet they are expected to take place in May

or June.

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