Heal Zimbabwe condemns the abduction of political activists
Heal Zimbabwe condemns the abduction of Citizens Manifesto cordinator,Tatenda Mombeyarara and Blessing Kanotunga, the MDC Youth Chairperson for Mufakose District on 13 August 2019 by unknown assailants.Mombeyarara was abducted by 8 armed men who broke into his home around midnight while Kanotunga was abducted around the same time by 5 unidentified armed men. Kanotunga was heavily assaulted and left for dead along Chitungwiza road while Mombeyarara sustained a broken leg, fractured hand, damaged kidneys and bruises.
Heal Zimbabwe is greatly worried by the increase in the number of abductions. During the January 2019 peaceful protests, several human rights activists were abducted in the crackdown that soon followed when the state unleashed the security services to initiate a series of targeted abductions that mainly targeted human rights activists from across the country. Heal Zimbabwe notes that the continued use of abductions and torture as a tool to punish and instill fear in citizens to intimidate them from peacefully demonstrating and petitioning government is not only criminal but also regrettable.
The United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1945 in Article 5 highlight that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. As a member state of the United Nations, Zimbabwe must adhere to the principles of democracy such as respecting constitutional provisions such as the right to demonstrate and petition. Heal Zimbabwe views the continued attack on human rights activists as a violation to section 53 of the constitution that provides for freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such acts do not only violate the Zimbabwean constitution and regional conventions such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights but also infringe rights for human rights defenders as provided for in the Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all human rights defenders in Africa. This declaration criminalizes the use of any measures aimed at silencing human rights defenders. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores the state to respect the right to personal security, right to petition and demonstrate as well as the right to assembly and association instead of subjecting citizens to torture.