International rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, has released its 2016 world report indicating that several Southern African Development Community member countries, including Zimbabwe, narrowed political space for voices critical of the government in the past year.
The report summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide.
It alleges that President Robert Mugabe consolidated his grip on power and failed to introduce any meaningful human rights reforms in 2015.
It further says those who criticized Mr. Mugabe or his government, including human rights defenders, civil society activists, political opponents, and outspoken street vendors, were harassed, threatened, or arbitrarily arrested by police and state security agents.
The report says there was no progress towards justice for past human rights violations and political violence.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher, Dewa Mavhinga, told VOA Studio 7 the report reflects investigative work that human rights watch staff undertook in 2015, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in focus.
Responding, Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said human rights watch must bring evidence not just criticize.