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Violence, Torture Routinely Used in Zimbabwe Says Rights Group


A report by a Zimbabwe human rights organization says violence and torture are routinely used by the government and its supporters as a means of suppressing dissent and extracting information from members of the public.

A report from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Non Governmental Organization Forum says there is widespread evidence of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, despite government denials.

The report says that although torture has been declining since 2002, unlawful arrest and detention and interference with freedoms have been on the rise.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum is an umbrella body of more than 10 human rights NGOs. It was established in the wake of the food riots in 1998 when state agents descended on citizens with an iron fist. The group says it is still in existence because there has been no significant change in human rights policies by state officials or state sanctioned institutions and individuals.

The Forum has, on behalf of victims of abuse, sued the government through the police the army and other individuals.

Though the courts have ruled in favor of some victims, the report says, they often wait for a long time for compensation. In some cases dating back to 1998, damages were awarded but have still not been paid.

Supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF war veterans, the party's youth league and the youth militia are blamed for the majority of human rights abuses.

The Forum says since July 2001 its monthly Political Violence Reports show that more than 15,000 cases of organized violence and torture have been reported. It says 2005, the year the government launched its blitz on unapproved homes and informal businesses was particularly bad.

The report notes that the country's courts, which have found evidence of human rights abuses and say they have to be addressed, are dealing with abuse cases. The Human Rights Forum cautions that its report is not exhaustive as it only reflects cases referred to it. It says there could be more that are never reported to it.

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