Zimbabwe Human Rights
Human Rights Concerns
Zimbabweans are expected to soon return to the polls to vote on a new constitution and potentially new presidential and parliamentary elections. It is yet to be determined exactly when and what votes will occur, but there is no confusion on this issue: any vote must be without violence and in compliance with appropriate national and international standards.
The 2008 elections in Zimbabwe were marred with high levels of political violence. Amnesty International documented killings, torture and disappearances. Political opposition members, civil society and human rights defenders were particularly targeted. Amnesty International is concerned such individuals will again be specifically targeted for abuse.
Politically motivated violence and repression of rights continues to occur in Zimbabwe. During 2011, a constitutional consultation process occurred, where citizen outreach took place concerning the drafting of a new constitution. Amnesty International documented many instances of violence and intimidation associated with this process including at least one death. Additionally, many persons were arrested and detained by security forces merely for their work to ensure rights for Zimbabwe citizens. These include journalists, media freedom monitors, LGBT activists, human rights defenders, civil society activists and a group of persons gathered to view and discuss footage of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Security sectors reforms are urgently needed in Zimbabwe; however President Mugabe’s party ZANU-PF retains control of these government sectors under the negotiated government of national unity. Thus far, ZANU-PF has been resistant to change and continues to utilize the police, justice department and security sector to intimidate and harass those perceived as opponents. Calls for presidential elections to be held in early 2012 continue to occur from President Mugabe. Without security sector reform, concerns large levels of violence associated with any election remain.
Amnesty International continues to monitor incidents of forced eviction in Zimbabwe, as well as the human rights violations occurring as a result of these displacements. In one informal settlement outside the capital Harare, Amnesty International documented the deaths of infants due to inadequate warmth and sanitation facilities. This needless loss of life caused by poor government policies must be addressed immediately by the government. Additionally, a recent report documented an estimated 220,000 children experienced a disruption to their education as a result of 2005’s Operation Murambatsvina, when the Zimbabwe government displaced 700,000 people.