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2005 a Bad Year for Human Rights in Zimbabwe, NGO Umbrella Group Says

Cases of political violence and human rights abuses nearly doubled in Zimbabwe last year from 2004 levels, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum, an umbrella organization of 17 civil society groups.

The Forum said the level of abuses was the worst it had documented since it started tracking such incidents in 1998. The 2005 report cited 4,200 such incidents compared with 2,711 in 2004, including four murders and four rapes, said the group.

The group said that the persistence of such abuses despite damning reports on human rights violations in Zimbabwe from African Union’s Commission on Human and People’s Rights and other organizations is a measure of the government’s disregard for constitutional protections and its international human rights commitments.

The Human Rights NGO Forum noted that incidents surged despite the ruling ZANU-PF party’s victory in March 2005 general elections and a weakened opposition. The Movement for Democratic Change has been deeply divided since late 2005 when its leadership clashed over whether to contest November senate elections.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he does not expect to see any reduction in the level of political violence and human rights violations during 2006 as Zimbabweans grow increasingly restive amidst deteriorating living standards.

More reports from VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe…