Stop the abductions!

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Heal Zimbabwe condemns the continued abduction of human rights activists by suspected state agents. On 21 August 2019, comedian Samantha Kureya was abducted from her home and tortured by alleged state agents. The abduction comes barely days after Samantha featured in a political satire skit that condemned the use of brute force by the police during the 16 August 2019 demonstration. The abduction of Samantha come at a time when there has been a series of targeted abductions of mostly political activists.

On 16 August 2019, an MDC Alliance member (name withheld) was abducted and tortured at ZANU PF party headquarters by a group of ZANU PF youths. On 18 August 2019, MDC Alliance Epworth ward 5 chairperson, Patrick Bandera and the party’s District Secretary for Labour, Givemore Goreke were abducted by 5 armed men suspected to be state agents. On 19 August 2019, MDC Alliance members from Bulawayo, Wilbert Verenga, Masiza Ndlovu, Benard Verenga and Tadiwanashe Marumbei were also abducted and tortured by heavily armed men. To date, Heal Zimbabwe is still inundated with reports of targeted abductions and harassment of political activists by suspected members of the security services. 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 that is well provided for in section 59 of the constitution. 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. In addition, the government should look for amicable means of addressing concerns being raised by citizens.                                        
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