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President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged to end police brutality in Zimbabwe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

A coalition of Zimbabwean human rights groups is calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to end abuses perpetrated by the country’s police officers.

During former president Robert Mugabe’s nearly 40-year rule the police force was deployed to target opposition supporters and human rights activists.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which represents 22 organisations, says police officers are still using arbitrary arrests to intimidate citizens.

During the launch of its latest human rights report, the forum said it had received complaints about 52 unlawful arrests and harassment in 2017.

“Basically we are asking the government to uphold the human rights of this country. In as much as the country is talking about how we are open for business, we also want to ensure that the country is open for human rights-upholding in this country,” said Chester Samba, deputy chairperson of the ZimRights NGO Forum.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Dewa Mavhinga from Human Rights Watch highlighted the lack of justice and accountability in cases of police brutality.

“It is a powerful report, a shocking report when you look at levels of human rights abuses that are documented, particularly cases of police brutality in the context of impunity, where there is no justice or accountability that has been made,” Mavhinga said.

Trevor Simbanegavi, a victim of police brutality, gave a heart-breaking account of how he was crippled after being shot eight times by a police officer.

The 30-year-old was mistakenly identified as a car hijacker and has never been charged with anything.

“A lot of challenges emerged as a result of that shooting like for instance, I have developed an ear problem,” said Simbanegavi.

“I have developed ulcers and right now I have mobility challenges, psychologically it’s affecting me. In fact, I am traumatised when I think of it and even when I think of the events of that day.”

Human Rights Watch has urged Mnangagwa’s government to look into this case urgently to ensure Simbanegavi is compensated and the officer who shot him held accountable.

The report says Zimbabwe’s government is failing in its obligation to protect and fulfil human rights.

It says the government has shown no commitment to ratifying the UN convention against torture and other degrading treatments.