Human rights situation getting worse: CSOs

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE recorded over 2 000 human rights violations including two abductions in 2021, human rights’ organisations have said citing State security organs as the main perpetrators.

According to a 2021 State of Human Rights Report released by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on Thursday, last year was one of the worst in terms of the country’s democracy and human rights record.

The report provides an audit of government’s conduct in meeting the human rights obligations set out in the Constitution and various international treaties throughout the year 2021.

“The government intensified its attacks on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, clearly demonstrating a complete disregard for the Constitution. Arbitrary exercise of power by the executive manifested in the unprocedural and unconstitutional passing of amendments to the 2013 Constitution for the second time, whose net effect was concentrating power in the President,” the report read.

In 2021, rights groups said they recorded 2 199 cases of human rights violations which included 12 unlawful killings, two abductions and 306 assault and torture.

The police and army were named as the major perpetrators of the violence, accounting for 62% of the cases.

“It (Forum) also notes with great concern the increase in number of ‘unknown perpetrators’ responsible for the abduction, assault, and torture of civilians. 79 unidentified perpetrators are a very serious threat to state security, heightening fears amongst citizens. Of particular concern is the lack of interest by the government to investigate these cases despite availability of evidence.”

The rights report was released at a time when government is battling to control workers’ unrest, with teachers and nurses on strike over poor working conditions.

Speaking at the launch of the report, NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika said authoritarian consolidation was gaining ground.

“The human rights issue in the country spells gloom and doom. However, the situation could be worse without the works of the human right defenders. There is a need to adapt to mechanisms that keep us going,” he said.

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