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Geneva Group: Human Rights Abuses Rife in Zimbabwe

The Geneva-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has published a detailed report chronicling abuses it says are continuing in Zimbabwe.

The report, done in conjunction with ZIMRIGHTS in Harare, recommends that the Southern African Development Community, African Union, European Union and United Nations must intervene in Harare to ensure that human rights defenders and Zimbabweans are protected from the violence allegedly being committed with impunity by the police and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party members.

In the report, ‘Zimbabwe: Ongoing Risks for Human Rights Defenders in the Context of Political Deadlock and Pre-electoral Period’, the rights group says the failure by the government of national unity to improve the political situation means that violence might spike as Zimbabwe prepares for a referendum and general elections next year.

"The mission delegates concluded that it was unlikely that any meaningful and genuine reforms could emerge from the political stalemate and that in the run-up to the new elections called by Zanu-PF, there were strong reasons to believe that the environment in which human rights defenders operated was alarming and would further deteriorate."

The report also analyses multiple forms of harassment facing human rights defenders while they try to do their work, including "police summons, disruption of assemblies and protests, police violence, propaganda and slandering, threats of organization closure, and deterrence from participating in international and regional meetings."

ZIMRIGHTS Executive Director Okay Machisa told VOA Studio 7 that their research shows the situation in Harare is tense.
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