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New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released horrific details of rights defenders and pro-democracy activists being tortured by police and intelligence operatives during the recent anti-government protests.
The gruesome details were presented in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, where the country’s human rights record came under global scrutiny at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also Justice Minister, presented the country’s official report at the same meeting, which was roundly condemned by civic groups who described it as a sham and at odds with their findings.
Mnangagwa was quizzed over Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record, when he appeared before the Universal Periodic Review meeting of the United National Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday.
But, Dzamara’s family and ZLHR refuted Mnangagwa’s claims.
“I am working hard to establish where Itai Dzamara is,” Mnangagwa claimed.
Dzamara’s brother, Patson, accused Mnangagwa of lying and misleading the world.
“This man travelled all the way to Geneva so that he may lie. Mnangagwa is a liar,” Patson said.
“Since Itai’s disappearance, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has failed to come up with a lead and that has cemented our position on their purported sincerity, and I have always registered that they know what happened to Itai and they are not acting in good faith.”
He said the government never engaged the family, despite petitions being written to President Robert Mugabe.
Patson was recently arrested at Parliament Building for protesting over his brother’s disappearance.
ZLHR senior manager, Dzimbabwe Chimbga said: “We have a High Court order that obliges police to give updates on the investigations, but practically, we have not seen any progress. I would not even say we are working together with the government. We are supposed to work together, but there has not been any marriage in terms of the investigations and Mnangagwa’s statement is not accurate.”In Geneva, Mnangagwa was reportedly humiliated by several activists and protesters, who said Zimbabwe did not qualify to send United Nations peacekeeping forces, when at home, people were clobbered by the police during protests.
In his statement, Mnangagwa claimed there was no partisan distribution of food aid in Zimbabwe.
“Currently, we have no political prisoners and detainees in Zimbabwe and on the issue of the death penalty, for over a decade, we have had no executions in Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said 257 out of 396 Acts had been aligned to the Constitution, including prioritisation of alignment of laws that impinge on freedoms of expression, association and media through the omnibus General Laws Amendment Act.
On prison conditions, Mnangagwa said the new Prisons and Correctional Services Bill would reduce congestion.
Several countries urged Zimbabwe to end partisan distribution of food aid and stop infringement of the rights to petition, assembly, discrimination of persons along sexual orientation, particularly the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities, and media reforms, among other demands.
Germany recommended immediate action to be taken to amend existing laws such as the Public Order and Security Act to ensure the right to assembly, and freedoms of the Press and association.
Norway said the government should co-operate with civic society organisations in implementing human rights and create a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.
The Holy See (Vatican) also recommended implementation of children’s rights, especially reinforcing of policies to ensure all children born in Zimbabwe regardless of their parents’ origins are issued with birth certificates.
The Netherlands said Zimbabwe should repeal the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and abolish the death penalty, ratify and domesticate the conventions against enforced disappearances and against torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
They said arrests of journalists and civic society activists and demonstrators must end.
But South Africa and South Sudan said sanctions inhibited Zimbabwe from implementing its human rights obligations, as they created limited fiscal space. Bulawayo24.