Police officers principally responsible for human rights abuses in February

In the month of February, the ZRP officers appeared to be the principal perpetrators of human rights abuses, particularly in the unlawful arrest and torture of civilians. It appears that the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) has been the main basis of arrests of journalists, pastors, and clergy, members of parliament and ordinary citizens.

The Human Rights Forum condemns the use of various sections of POSA to curtail people’s constitutional rights, particularly the right to freedom of association, assembly and expression. The arrests in February 2003 of organisers of a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition meeting at Northside Community Church; of 23 pastors and members of clergy on their way to present a petition to the Deputy Commissioner of Police at Police General Headquarters and of 70 persons marching for love against all forms of violence on Valentines Day in a procession organised by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have illustrated the extent to which the Public Order and Security Act (predominantly sections 16, 17, 19 – 22) is being misapplied to effect unlawful arrests.

Much of the organised violence and torture recorded for the month of February in Mashonaland Central had violations ranging from displacement from work, farms, and homes; to death threats, assault, political intimidation, unlawful arrests, and property thefts. In Muzarabani constituency, APM, an MDC supporter, claims that ZANU PF youths threatened him with death, tied his legs together, thrashed him with logs and rubber sticks, because he supports the opposition MDC.

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