Widespread human rights violations were inflicted upon white farmers and black farm workers by agents of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government during the seizures of white-owned farms from 2000 to 2005.
This report finds that the gross human rights violations, and the violations of rights generally, were much greater than had been previously assumed. It is also evident that the patterns of violations and those involved in the perpetration of these violations are not commensurate with conflicts over land between land owners and landless people. Instead the data from the survey suggests organised appropriation by an elite, as has been widely claimed.
In addition to the human rights abuses, immense financial losses were inflicted upon the farm owners. Farm workers suffered catastrophic losses of income, habitation, health services and access to clean water and sanitation that contributed to a high death rate.
The combination of the human rights abuses and loss of livelihood have contributed to a growing economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
The report concludes that the evidence is strongly suggestive of a systematic campaign, as evidenced by the failure of the police and civilian authorities to enforce the law and offer the protection of the law. The report finds that a plausible case can be made for crimes against humanity having been committed during these displacements. There is a compelling need for these to be investigated and the perpetrators to be charged and tried.
There can be no impunity for gross human rights violations ever and hence there must be some process of accountability for the violations that occurred during the land reform exercise. Quite obviously this accountability must involve both criminal and civil actions, and both groups – commercial farmers and farm workers – must be supported in obtaining redress for the violations they have experienced and the losses they have suffered.