LATEST: Mnangagwa government’s renewed crackdown on critics catches UN attention

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GOVERNMENT’S renewed crackdown against critics has caught the attention of the United Nations which has expressed its desires to send a team of experts to Zimbabwe to assess the country’s deteriorating rights situation.

The UN human rights team of experts has called on the Harare administration to cease “all abductions, torture and hold perpetrators to account as a matter of urgency”.

This comes after MDC Alliance MP Joanna Mamombe, party activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova have claimed abductions and torture in the hands of suspected state security agents who accused them of plotting to remove government from power.

Government has since charged the opposition activists with violating the country’s Covid-19 regulations through staging an anti-government demonstration when the country was observing a lockdown against the spread of coronavirus.

Said the UN experts, “The charges against the three women should be dropped.

“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.”

As if their troubles were not enough, the MDC activists were Wednesday seized from the hands of their lawyers by law enforcement agents to face fresh charges of faking their own arrests.

This was after the Zanu PF led government had conducted investigations which established the three lied about their abductions.

However, the feedback seems not to impress UN experts who insist such heinous acts were not isolated as there have been similar incidences since 2019.

Since the time, the experts say, there have been 49 abductions and torture complaints reported against the under-fire Harare administration, without investigations leading to perpetrators being held to account.

“We urge the government to allow official visits of UN human rights experts with a view to assessing the human rights situation in the country,” the experts said.

Mnangagwa has been accused by critics locally and abroad of presiding over a systematic and brutal crackdown on human rights, including the violent suppression of protests and a witch-hunt against anyone who dared challenge his government since his rise to power.

The administration has also been accused of silencing dissent and blocking all demonstrations perceived to be anti-government.

Amnesty International documented at least 15 killings by security forces when protests erupted on 14 January 2019.

The wild protests were sparked by the announcement of fuel price hikes by government.

The state carried out mass arrests on over a thousand people on charges of public violence.

Some six citizens were also shot dead during the ill-fated August 2018 Harare protests sparked by a delay in the announcement of election results.

To date, no arrests have been made on perpetrators of all the rights abuses causing many to speculate that government has a hand in it.

— NewZimbabwe


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