Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

June 3, 2008

Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

The government of Zimbabwe has also failed to meet the requirements of Article 12 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders20that recognises the right of everyone "individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The Declaration calls on states to "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of their rights."


VI. Conclusion

Amnesty International fears that the level of human rights violations and abuses against MDC supporters and human rights defenders will increase, during the period leading to the second run-off presidential election, if the government of Zimbabwe does not take immediate action to end the attacks. The organisation believes that many of the current acts of violence, and the government's failure to ensure such incidents are properly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice, violates both national law and international human rights law. Instead of exercising due diligence to protect all Zimbabweans, state officials, in particular soldiers, are reportedly torturing and ill-treating an increasing number of individuals, while ZANU-PF supporters and "war veterans" are allowed to kill, torture, ill-treat, harass and intimidate perceived political rivals with impunity.


Amnesty International believes that increased international pressure on the government of Zimbabwe, particularly by member states of the Africa Union, Southern African Development Community, Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa and other countries invited to send international election observers for the presidential election run-off on 27 June 2008, can have a significant positive impact on the protection of human rights during and after the elections. In that regard, the organisation is convinced that human rights specialists should be included in international election observer teams. 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 before, during and after the presidential election. 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.


VII. Recommendations

The Zimbabwean authorities should:

  • Take immediate steps to guarantee the right to life and freedom from torture and other ill-treatment for all. The government should publicly denounce all acts of violence by ZANU-PF supporters, "war veterans" and soldiers, as well as by any other parties, and work with all political parties to end political violence immediately. It should also withdraw soldiers, who have been deployed in rural areas, who appear to be instigating attacks against people perceived to have voted for the MDC.

  • Allow international election observers, and human rights specialists accompanying them, unrestricted access to all parts of the country during and after the election process. The government should also guarantee the safety of all persons who report human rights abuses.