Human Rights Public Interest Unit: Torture Report 2001

For many Zimbabweans the year 2001 was a very difficult one. The politically motivated violence, which began after the referendum in February 2000, continued as a result of the election challenges and the forthcoming 2002 presidential elections. The police force continued to be used as a tool for violence by the ruling party.

In many instances the police declined to investigate reports of violence and intimidation for the reason that they were political. In some instances, police officers were implicated in human rights abuses. The failure by the police to guarantee the equal protection of the law to the victims encouraged the perpetrators to continue the violence and intimidation.

The socio-political situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated to the lowest possible levels. The running down of the economy continued unabated leaving millions of Zimbabweans poor. Politically motivated violence and intimidation, and abuse of fundamental human rights at the behest of the government have become manifest.

Throughout the year, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum published several reports and condemned human rights violations committed with the express or tacit support of the government of Zimbabwe. We urge the government to take urgent steps to stop politically motivated violence and intimidation.

After a decent stock-take, it is clear that despite our recommendations for the years 1999 and 2000, there has not been any serious attempt by the government to restore the rule of law. Certain individuals still behaved as if they were above the law. We demand a restoration of the rule of law.

In this respect, we reiterate our concern over the failure by the government to ensure that the police carry out their duties in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Police Act. During the year, the failure by the police to provide protection to victims of gross human rights violations was a continuing cause for concern. Partisan policing must end and all Zimbabweans must be afforded the equal protection of the law.

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