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Report reveals shocking human rights abuses in Zimbabwe

The 2023 Human Rights Commission Report has revealed shocking levels of torture and arbitrary arrests by law enforcement agents in Zimbabwe.

It also details restrictions on freedom of expression and other violations with a major detrimental effect on individuals and society.

According to the report, between 2019 and 2023, there were 237 cases of alleged torture and 456 cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions reported to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

Senator Kucaca Phulu presented a comprehensive analysis of the report during a Senate motion on Wednesday. He highlighted several challenges facing Zimbabwe, including allegations of torture, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.

“These violations are a stark reminder of the need for continuous vigilance and action to ensure human rights are protected and promoted in our country,” he said.

Phulu called the widespread use of torture by law enforcement agents one of the report’s “most disturbing findings.”

“Torture is a violation of human rights that is unacceptable in any society,” he said. “It’s a form of cruelty designed to break the spirit of individuals and a practice that must be stopped.”

The Senator described the 237 reported torture cases between 2019 and 2023 as a “staggering number” that demands urgent action.

Phulu also pointed out that the 456 reported cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions violate the right to liberty and security.

“They are a threat to the rule of law in our country,” he emphasised. “This significant number highlights the need for urgent action to address this issue.”

The report further documented 123 cases of restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly between 2019 and 2023. Phulu stressed that these violate fundamental freedoms enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution.

“Again, I submit that this is a disturbing number and highlights the need to urgently address this issue,” he said, noting the need for concrete steps to promote human rights in Zimbabwe.

The Senator lamented that over 800 human rights violations were reported to the ZHRC between 2019 and 2023. However, he highlighted the value of these reports in tracking progress.

Phulu noted the report mentions programs aimed at promoting human rights, but emphasized the need to strengthen the ZHRC’s capacity to deal with such issues.

He explained that Zimbabwe’s human rights record is scrutinized at conferences, particularly those hosted by UN organisations or African platforms. The Minister of Justice presents a report on these occasions.

“Civic Society Organisations provide a shadow report that draws heavily from reports by organizations like the Human Rights Commission,” he said.

Phulu also lamented the lack of funding for the ZHRC.

“With financial support,” he said, “they could produce more detailed reports and make more effective interventions. This would ensure Zimbabwe’s human rights record is accurately captured and reflected, and demonstrate progress in containing human rights violations.”

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