UN Experts Slam ‘Abductions And Torture’ In Zimbabwe

Written by on June 10, 2020

United Nations experts on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe to stop “abductions and torture” that they said seemed aimed at stifling dissent.

Three members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change say they were abducted by police at an MDC protest in the capital Harare on May 13.

Joanna Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri — prominent members of the MDC’s youth wing — were found dumped on the side of a road two days later and taken to hospital with multiple injuries.

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said they had been severely beaten and sexually assaulted.

In a statement, nine UN special rapporteurs — who do not speak for the UN but report their findings to it — said the three had been charged with violating COVID-19 regulations on public gatherings and with intending to promote public violence.

The UN experts called on Zimbabwe to immediately end the reported pattern of disappearances and torture.

“The charges against the three women should be dropped,” the experts said.

“Targeting peaceful dissidents, including youth leaders, in direct retaliation for the exercise of their freedom of association, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, is a serious violation of human rights law.”

They urged the Zimbabwean authorities to “urgently prosecute and punish the perpetrators of this outrageous crime, and to immediately enforce a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for abductions and torture”.

They also said that in 2019, 49 cases of abductions and torture were reported in Zimbabwe, without investigations leading to those responsible being held accountable.

“Zimbabwe must take all measures in its power to prevent such abuse, to investigate suspected violations, and to bring any perpetrators to justice,” the experts said.

The rapporteurs also urged Zimbabwe to admit UN rights experts so that they could assess the situation.

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