‘10 killed in State-sponsored rights abuses’

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

AT least 10 people were allegedly killed by State security agents last year as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government restricted freedoms of expression under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 regulations, Amnesty International (AI) has said in its latest report.

In the report on its assessment on the state of human rights in Zimbabwe, the human rights watchdog noted that most of the victims were killed with impunity for violating COVID-19 regulations, while several other people, including women, were subjected to torture and harassment during the pandemic.

“Security forces frequently used excessive force to prevent or crackdown on peaceful protests and to impose lockdown restrictions, killing at least 10 people,” the human rights watchdog stated said.

“The authorities used COVID-19 regulations to justify severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. They deployed security forces to abduct, assault, and torture perceived critics, and opposition members and leaders.”

The AI noted that most of the State-sponsored brutalities were recorded in the Matabeleland region.

The late MDC Alliance councillor for Ward 4 in Karoi, Lavender Chiwaya, was named as one of the victims of the killings.

Amnesty International also accused Mnangagwa’s government of harassing trade unionists and violating freedoms of expressions as enshrined in the Constitution through arrests, detention and torture of journalists.

“Many were subjected to violence, including a significant number of women. Two sisters, Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu, were severely beaten by police on April 16, 2020, in Bulawayo when they went out during curfew to buy food for their children,” the report read.

“There are significant human rights issues, including unlawful or arbitrary killings of civilians by security forces, torture and arbitrary detention by security forces, cases of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, political prisoners or detainees and arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy,” the report further
read.

Human rights defenders have expressed concern over continued human rights abuses under Mnangagwa’s rule, which was common during the late former president Robert Mugabe’s governance.

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