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Zimbabwean Civic Groups Note Surge in Human Rights Violations in September


A report issued by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Peace Project and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said human rights violations included outright violence, intimidation and the restriction of the right of expression

A consortium of Zimbabwean civil society groups which has been monitoring the country's constitutional revision process said Wednesday that it documented more than 1,000 human rights violations in the second half of September alone as political tensions mounted in the concluding days of a still-unfinished public outreach phase.

A report issued by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Peace Project and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said human rights violations included outright violence, intimidation and the restriction of the right of expression through coercion or coaching of members of the public on what they should say in outreach meetings.

The report said the most violations occurred in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

The report tallied 91,943 outreach participants, 46 percent of which were from Mashonaland Central and Midlands provinces. Mashonaland East and Matebeleland South and North had "disturbingly" low participation, it said.

Speaking for the civic monitoring consortium, Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that political parties were determined to see their views reflected.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise said the process was not likely to reflect what Zimbabweans really think. WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams said it is of concern that Harare meetings called off in late September due to violence, allegedly by supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, have not been rescheduled yet.

But Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga told reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the Harare outreach meetings will be held on one of the next two weekends, depending on when the committee receives funds.

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