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Rights Lawyers Concerned by Spike in Zimbabwe Police, Army Abuse Cases

Zimbabwean police on patrol at the Chingwizi transit camp for over 20,000 people displaced as a result of the flooded Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam. (Photo: Human Rights Watch)

Human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe are concerned by the rising number of ordinary people suing the police and the army for rights abuses.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has in the past few months handled cases in which ordinary Zimbabweans, among them a one-year old child from Tokwe-Mukosi, a 10-year old, political activists and lawyers are suing the uniformed forces for abuse.

The ZLHR told VOA they are seriously concerned by the spike in the number of people suing the state institutions saying this shows the police and the army are not respecting people’s rights and that on the other hand, it shows some Zimbabweans now know more about their rights.

Attorney Dzimbabwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the trend is worrying.

“It remains a cause for concern for us because in terms of the new constitution, all members of the disciplined forces, as they are known, are supposed to uphold the principles of rule of law and constitutionalism,” said Chimbga.

“And in particular, they are supposed to ensure that civilians and individuals are protected and what we see now is the other way round with the way security forces are harassing individuals and citizens.”

The High Court has just ordered Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramai to pay $2,000 to a Harare political activist, Jonathan Mushawa, who was assaulted by members of the military.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police was last month ordered by the same court to pay $2,000 to a member of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Amon Chitando, for wrongful arrest in Bindura.

In Mutare, the police paid $3,000 to Tsitsi Chimhutu for alleged torture at the hands of the police after she was accused of stealing at her work place.

Prominent lawyers such as Munyaradzi Gwisai and Kennedy Masiye are also suing the police for infringing on their rights.

But the most disturbing remains that of one-year old Precious Mapanzure, who is among the 35 Chingwizi villagers suing the Home Affairs Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri for violating their rights when they were in detention.

In addition, 10-year old Prince Makore, also of Chingwizi, is further demanding damages for wounds he sustained after he was bitten by police dogs that were set on him during the forced eviction of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims.

Lawyer Dzimbabwe Chimbga Speaks on Army and Police Rights Abuses
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