United Nations (UN) human rights experts have called on Zimbabwe to immediately end a reported pattern of disappearances and torture aimed at suppressing opposition and protests.
The call follows the stopping, at a police checkpoint in Harare, of MDC Alliance member of parliament for Harare West Joanna Mamombe, MDC Alliance National youth deputy organising secretary, Netsai Marova and MDC Alliance youth campaigner, Cecilia Chimbiri on their way to a peaceful protest and their subsequent abduction, torture and sexual assault in May 2020.
In a press statement released by the UN, the experts called on the authorities of Zimbabwe to “urgently prosecute and punish the perpetrators of this outrageous crime, and to immediately enforce a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for abductions and torture throughout the country” to ensure the effective protection of women against sexual violence, and to bring those responsible to account.
“The charges against the three women should be dropped,” the experts said.
UN further expressed grave alarm over concerns this was not an isolated occurance with 49 cases of abductions and torture recorded in 2019 alone, without investigations leading to perpetrators being held to account.
“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,” added the human rights specialists.
They advised the government to allow official visits of UN human rights experts to assess the human rights situation in the country.
“Under the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, which includes enforced disappearance and violence against women, Zimbabwe must take all measures in its power to prevent such abuse, to investigate suspected violations, and to bring any perpetrators to justice.”