23rd August 2019

As Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe we are greatly concerned by the blatant disregard of the Zimbabwean people’s Constitutional rights by the government. In recent months there has been a systematic targeting of civil society leaders, human rights defenders and some members of the opposition party in direct contravention of the Constitution under Section 53, Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Section 59, Freedom to demonstrate and petition and Section 61, Freedom of expression and freedom of the media. 

We have observed a worrying pattern of established State repression similar to events that occurred on the 1st of August 2018 and January 2019. There has also been an increase in the number of people who have been charged with Subverting Constitutional Government as in the cases of Tatenda Mombeyarara, George Makoni, Frank Mpahlo, Gamuchirai Mukura and Farirai Gumbonzvanda, human rights defenders, who were arrested and charged with Subverting Constitutional Government on the 20th of May 2019. On the 7th of June in response to those charges, Justice Chitapi stated that the State had arrested these individuals to investigate and did not investigate first. The Justice concluded that by these individuals attending the CANVAS workshop in Prague it did not show subversion and as a result they were released.

For some of the people who have been detained and arrested, the government has failed in their duty in according them their rights under Section 50, Rights of the arrested and detained, Section 51, Right to dignity and Section 53, Freedom from torture. When Job Sikhala was arrested on the 10th of July 2019, his lawyers could not locate him at Harare Central Police where he had been detained as he had been surreptitiously moved to Gutu under blindfold without his lawyer’s knowledge.

This year has also seen an increase in abductions and torture as in the cases of Obert Masaraure, ARTUZ President, who received severe beatings, Tatenda Mombeyarara, MDC Youth Leader, who sustained a broken leg, fractured hand, damaged kidneys and chemical burns on his skin, Samantha Kureya, a comedian, who is better known as Gonyeti was abducted and beaten for her satires on the 21st of August 2019 despite the fact that every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to freedom of expression. The government has been very lax in their investigations with regards to these abductions and torture and as a result no one has been brought to account for them.

Demonstrations are a right that is enshrined in the Constitution, but the government have not permitted citizens to exercise this right. The demonstrations that were scheduled for the 16th of August in Harare, 19th of August in Bulawayo, 20th of August in Gweru and the 22nd of August in Masvingo were not permitted to be held. In Harare the police used tear gas, excessive force and brutality to disperse the people who were peacefully gathered as they waited for the permission to proceed and in other cities there was a strong police presence preventing people from assembling together and demonstrating.

It is imperative that the Government observes in full provisions laid out in the 2013 Constitution.