Zimbabwe: Amnesty International Report Exposes Dire Human Rights Situation in Zimbabwe

24 April 2024

Amnesty International has declared a critical moment for international law, citing rampant violations by governments and corporate entities.

The organization's latest report, "The State of the World's Human Rights," examines human rights conditions across 155 countries and warns of a dire future if current trends continue.

In the report Zimbabwe is depicted as a nation rife with egregious violations of human rights, particularly during the election period, painting a stark picture of repression and violence against dissenters.

The report highlights severe restrictions on fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, particularly targeting opposition members and those associated with them.

The period surrounding the general elections witnessed a wave of repression, including arbitrary detentions, prosecutions, and even extrajudicial killings.

Opposition members bore the brunt of this crackdown, with reports of widespread repression and abuse by state actors.

"The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be threatened especially during the general election period.

"Members of the main party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), were the main targets of New legislation further tightened the grip on dissent, imposing harsh penalties and criminalizing peaceful expression of dissenting views," the report said.

Instances of abductions, torture, and killings of activists underscore the depth of the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe. The report details cases of arbitrary arrests and unfair trials, where individuals faced imprisonment for simply exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.

On 28 April 2023, Jacob Ngarivhume, the leader of the opposition party Transform Zimbabwe, was convicted and sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment, 12 of which were suspended.

He had been arrested in July 2020 for leading and organizing anti-corruption protests in the same month. He was accused of inciting public violence by using his Twitter (now known as X) handle to convene nationwide protests which were ultimately suppressed by security forces.

On 11 December 2023, he was acquitted on appeal after spending eight months in prison.

The report details abductions and torture carried out by plain-clothes state agents. Notably, on August 26, agents disrupted a CCC conference and attempted to arrest party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi.

This incident was part of a series of abductions, including the torture and eventual killing of CCC activist Tapfumanei Masaya.

The dire situation extends to healthcare, with a cholera outbreak exacerbated by a lack of clean water and inadequate infrastructure.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected, denied their rights to sexual and reproductive health, facing barriers to essential healthcare services, and enduring high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality.

Despite some legislative amendments aimed at children's rights, significant challenges persist, including child marriage and the underrepresentation of women in decision-making roles.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's promises of reform have largely gone unfulfilled, with the human rights situation deteriorating under his leadership.

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