Police in Bulawayo have been ordered by the courts to stop removing billboards mounted by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum calling for an end to abuses against rights activists and opponents of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party.
The group is now seeking compensation for its ads that were pulled down and destroyed by police in a recent operation targetting Bulawayo, the country's second largest city.
The billboards were calling on the government to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and the abolition of torture by the State. Police charge that the ads are offensive and could cause disharmony.
Executive Director Abel Chikomo of the Human Rights NGO Forum said he agreed recently to meet with the police over the matter, but when he got to Bulawayo he found that most billboards had already been destroyed.
As a result, Chikomo refused to meet with the police accusing them of acting in bad faith. Chikomo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that he was concerned that the police were against the NGO’s anti-torture campaign.