Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

June 3, 2008

Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

  • Ensure that police arrest suspected perpetrators of human rights abuses, including those who are instigating the violence. Police should operate in a non-partisan manner in executing their duties.

  • Ensure that all people arrested, without exception, are free from torture and other ill-treatment while in detention, that they have adequate conditions of detention and access to lawyers, relatives, food and medical care. Detainees must be brought promptly before an independent judge, so that they can challenge the legality of their detention; they must be charged with recognizably criminal offences and remanded by an independent court or else be released.

  • Ensure that access to humanitarian assistance, including medical care, shelter and food supplies, is not restricted.

  • Immediately set up an independent and impartial body to investigate all acts of political violence. The investigation's findings should be made public and suspected perpetrators should be brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness. Victims should be awarded full reparations in accordance with international standards.

    • Immediately end the harassment and intimidation by police of human rights defenders who are carrying out their work peacefully. In addition, the government should fully fulfil the right of all persons to participate in public affairs of their country, including by allowing local civil society organisations to observe elections. Alleged threats and acts of intimidation targeted at local observers should be fully investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice.

    • Ensure that soldiers undertaking policing functions do so for the shortest time possible; that the functions for which they are responsible are clearly defined; an that all such soldiers adhere fully to international standards on law enforcement including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials, and to international human rights law.

    • Immediately invite the Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses and implement fully their recommendations.


    The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union (AU) and members of the international community should:


    • Include human rights specialists in their election observer teams which should be deployed immediately to monitor the human rights situation, as well as investigate human rights violations and abuses during the pre and post election period. These human rights specialists should pay particular attention to protection of the right to freedom from torture or other ill-treatment, as well as the rights to peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression during the election period. The specialists should be able to produce rapid and frequent reports that should be made public. They should be able to engage with the Zimbabwean authorities and political parties to end human rights violations and abuses.

    • Increase their diplomatic engagement with the government of Zimbabwe, particularly raising concerns on human rights violations and abuses, in bilateral and multilateral meetings.