Amnesty International says human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are on the rise despite efforts by South Africa to mediate a settlement to the long-running political crisis.
Researchers from the human rights group who recently conducted research in the Southern African country reported that the law and order section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is beating and torturing human rights defenders with impunity.
“We have collected evidence from a wide range of sources, including victims, doctors and lawyers, showing how some units - particularly the law and order section within the Zimbabwean police - enjoy total impunity for human rights violations perpetrated against government critics," the organization said in a statement.
Amnesty cited one instance in which a 19-month-old infant was struck by a police baton during a demonstration by the National Constitutional Assembly which has been organization protests to demand a new, "people driven" constitution.
Amnesty urged President Thabo Mbeki and other South African officials guiding the mediation process between the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to prioritize human rights.
Amnesty International Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that organized police violence is on the rise.