Zimbabwe: U.S. Names Zim Govt Among Notorious Rights Abusers

Protesters at an #EndSARS protest in Lagos in mid-October, 2020.

THE United States state department has named the Zimbabwean government among some world administrations that were notorious for abusing their citizens.

In his Annual Country Reports of Human Rights Practices 2020, US State secretary Antony J. Blinken, in the House of Commons Tuesday, named Zimbabwe together with China, Russian, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua as some of the countries abusing citizens' rights.

Blinken said the Covid-19 pandemic impacted not only individuals' health, but their abilities to safely enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

He said some governments used the crisis as a pretext to restrict the enjoyment of rights and to consolidate authoritarian rule.

"State-sanctioned violence in Zimbabwe against civil society activists, labour leaders, and opposition members continued a culture of impunity, and LGBTQI+ persons continued to be vulnerable to violence, discrimination, and harassment due to criminalization and stigma associated with same-sex sexual conduct," Blinken said.

"In Turkmenistan, citizens criticizing the government faced possible arrest for treason, and the whereabouts of more than 100 political prisoners remain unknown.

"In Nicaragua, the corrupt Ortega regime passed increasingly repressive laws that limit severely the ability of opposition political groups, civil society, and independent media to operate... "

The US top diplomat said in Cuba and Russia, government restrictions continued to suppress the freedoms of expression, association, religion or belief, and movement.

Reacting to the report, US Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, Jim Fisch said Zimbabwe and other countries that were abusing human rights should be denied resources.

"The international community must continue to hold these regimes accountable, in part by denying them the resources to facilitate gross human rights violations. The connection between corruption & #human rights abuses is particularly transparent in #Zimbabwe. Reporting on gov't corruption or demanding gov't accountability leads to harassment, jail time, & torture for those who speak up," Fisch said.

"Unfortunately, this report also reminds us that these freedoms are constantly under attack around the world. Dictators, authoritarian regimes, kleptocrats, and autocrats alike deny their citizens access to the most basic human freedoms. These bad actors will stop at nothing to cling to power, all the while they detain, abuse, torture, and even murder those who dare to dissent. This report serves as an important diplomatic tool that gives us the resources to name and shame those who undermine or suppress the will of the people."

He said United States would always advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves and would continue to work to hold accountable, those who abuse their power, and would continue to support justice for all.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration has been described by opposition political parties, civic organisation and human rights defenders as worse than that of the late President Robert Mugabe in terms of human rights violations.

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