EU calls on Zim to probe abuses of human rights defenders

via EU calls on Zim to probe abuses of human rights defenders – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 20, 2015

The European Union (EU) has called on the Government of Zimbabwe to fully investigate abuses faced by human rights defenders, including the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara.

By Moses Mugugunyeki

The EU Parliament on Monday adopted a resolution initiated by Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Judith Sargentini on the increase of cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

The bloc noted the case of Dzamara, who was abducted by suspected State agents on March 9, and the arrest of 11 human rights activists who took part in a procession in support of missing Dzamara. The 11 activists, who included members of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, were detained for six hours before they were released.

The EU in November last year relaxed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe and warned it would continue to watch the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

However, recent developments, especially the abduction of Dzamara and the recent persecution of human rights activists, could exarcebate the strained relationship between Harare and Brussels.

“EU urges the government of Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders and create an enabling environment for all people to enjoy their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” the bloc said.

“The authorities of Zimbabwe must release all human rights defenders detained for exercising human rights activities, end judicial harassment and investigate fully abuses faced by human rights defenders.”

It also called on Zimbabwean authorities to immediately comply with the order of the High Court which instructed Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation Happyton Bonyongwe “to do all things necessary to determine his (Dzamara’s) whereabouts”.

This, it said, should include advertising on all State media and working closely with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to search for Dzamara “at all such places as may be within their jurisdiction”, as ordered by the court.

Zimbabwean authorities were also urged to immediately comply with the order of the High Court to report to the judge every two weeks on the government’s progress on the case until Dzamara was found.

Dzamara was abducted by five men near his home in Glen View, Harare.

In the months prior to his abduction, Dzamara had led a number of peaceful protests against the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.