Zimbabwe: 'Don't sweep human rights under the carpet' in power sharing talks

As the Zimbabwean government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) prepare to enter power-sharing talks, Amnesty International called on both parties to ensure there are no pardons for those who committed human rights violations in the post-election period.

Amnesty International said:

“There can be no lasting political solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe without addressing previous human rights violations. Such violations must end immediately, investigations must be carried out and alleged perpetrators brought to justice.”

Amnesty International continues to receive reports of ongoing political violence and harassment, particularly in rural areas.

Despite the signing of Monday’s ‘memorandum of understanding’ by the ruling party and opposition, Amnesty International remains concerned that Zimbabwe is still blanketed in a climate of fear and that people are still seeking medical treatment for serious injuries sustained in attacks of political violence.

On 22 July, an MDC official from a constituency south of Harare was allegedly attacked while he walked to work with a teenager in the early hours of the morning. Both the official and the younger man were allegedly abducted by suspected supporters of the ruling party and seriously beaten on lower parts of their body.
According to reports, their abductors said they had been looking for the MDC official, and that nowhere was safe.

Though some bases from which ‘war veterans’ and other ZANU-PF supporters launched attacks against opposition supporters have been dismantled, some in rural areas including in Mashonaland West, Central and East provinces, still remain.

Amnesty International continued:

“Over the past few months, as many as 150 people have been killed, thousands have been injured and tens of thousands have been displaced. These attacks must not be swept under the carpet in the interest of finding a short-term political solution. This would store up problems for further down the road.”

While attempts are being made by all Zimbabwean political parties – and the Southern African Development Community, African Union and United Nations – to address the political and economic crisis, Amnesty International said that important questions of justice and impunity were not explicitly tackled in the ‘memorandum of understanding’ signed on Monday.

“Any future deal between the parties should not include amnesties, pardons or any other measures that would prevent the emergence of the truth, a final judicial determination of guilt or non-guilt, and full reparations to victims and their families.”

In signing the memorandum, the ruling party and opposition committed themselves to condemning the promotion and use of violence and to taking all measures necessary to ensure that the structures and institutions it controls are not engaged in acts of violence.

Amnesty International is calling on the government to put an immediate end to all acts of intimidation, arbitrary arrest and torture perpetrated by state and non-state actors against human rights defenders and political activists, particularly in rural areas. All bases from which torture and ill-treatment is being carried out must be closed immediately and alleged perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice.

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