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EU, Zimbabwe Relations Sour Over Dzamara Abduction, Poll Violence

Abducted political activist Itai Dzamara captured at the Africa Unity Square in Harare where he was staging peaceful protests urging President Mugabe to step down.

Alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are now straining relations with the European Union (EU), which removed targeted sanctions imposed on some members of the ruling Zanu PF party a few months ago claiming that such activities had subsided in the troubled southern african nation.

In a press statement released Thursday, the EU parliament raised serious concern with the alleged rise in political violence in the country and called upon harare to ensure that human rights activist,- Itai Dzamara, who was abducted by unknown assailants in march, is found immediately.

The EU parliament said Zimbabwe must comply with a high court order that urged Harare to search for Dzamara and take all necessary measures to find him.

The EU parliamentarirans noted that they are concerned by reports from human rights groups that political violence was once again on the increase in the country.

Human rights groups are pointing to the alleged rise of political violence in Hurungwe West ahead of the June 10 parliamentary by-election in the constituecy. The violence is allegedly state-sponsored.

In a sign that ties with Harare are strained, the lawmakers deplored the absence of a strong and enforceable human rights clause in the interim economic partnership agreement signed between harare and the EU to normalize ties after a 13 year hiatus.

Chief operating officer Todd Moss of the Centre for Global Development, a Washington based think tank, says the EU blundered in normalizing ties with Harare.

Dzamara’s lawyer, Charles Kwaramba of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says the state is not doing enough to find Dzamara.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Cchange leader Morgan Tsvangirai concurs. But Deputy Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi says those criticising the police are misguided.

Itai’s brother, Patson Dzamara, says police are not doing enough to find him. He says the family is heartborken.

We asked patson if it is true that they are considering hiring a private investigator.

The EU first imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2002 over its human rights record but decided to ease them in the hope this would encourage President Robert Mugabe, now 91, to introduce some tangible political and related reforms.

Senior officials in President Barack Obama’s administration in U.S also called on Harare to find Dzamara.

Human rights groups and opposition political parties in Harare have also raised concern over the deterioerating human rights concerns in Harare.

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