US concerns on rule of law in Zimbabwe
The United States Government takes note of recent judicial verdicts and sentences holding accountable the perpetrators of political violence in 2008 and 2009. The U.S. commends the police officers, prosecutors, judges, and magistrates who serve their country through diligent investigations and due process to ensure the integrity of the rule of law in such cases.
At the same time, the United States is concerned by other recent cases that suggest excesses and a continued partisan bias on the part of law enforcement officers and prosecutors in the conduct of their duties.
• The U.S. is alarmed by the September 23 death of Tsorosai Kusena and the beating of three other individuals allegedly at the hands of police officers at a police base in Marange after having been taken from their village by private guards from a local diamond concession.
• The unrestrained show of violence and extortion along political lines around Harare by the ZANU-PF-allied Chipangano gang fosters an unacceptable environment of fear and intimidation that will only perpetuate violence and undermine the peace and stability which the police are sworn to protect.
• The U.S. is concerned about persistent reports of harassment, targeting, and heavy handed tactics used by police officers in arresting civil society activists– most recently leaders from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) on September 22– and MDC leaders and supporters as they conduct civil demonstrations or peaceful political activities.
• The reported occupation of city council or privately owned properties in Harare and Bulawayo, and of foreign owned companies in Masvingo, by youths acting in the name of ZANU-PF fundamentally undermine constitutionally-assured property rights, investor confidence, and Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
• The routine invocation of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to hold politically-oriented and civil society detainees despite judicial rulings granting them bail nullifies judicial checks on the excesses of the executive and suggest a strong partisan bias from the Attorney General’s Office.
If left unchallenged, actions such as these lend credence to public perceptions of ZANU-PF as a party committed to violence and intimidation unconstrained by the laws of the land. They further paint the police force and prosecutors as serving the interests of that party, rather than the Zimbabwean people or the state.
The United States calls on the ZANU-PF leadership to insist that party members and supporters abide strictly by the laws of the country and to hold accountable those members who violate President Mugabe’s directive against violence.
We further call on the Government of Zimbabwe– particularly the Zimbabwe Republic Police, state prosecutors, and judicial officers- to investigate scrupulously and accord expeditious due process in these and all cases of alleged abuse or violations of the rule of law.
As the Government of Zimbabwe is scheduled to appear before the Human Rights Council’s Universal Period Review from October 13-14, we ask that it honor the pledge made in its submission, namely to uphold and protect human rights principles and to promote international and domestic instruments in the advancement of these principles. U.S. Embassy Harare, Public Affairs Section