Amnesty International's secretary-general Irene Khan says Zimbabwe is
suffering persistent and serious human rights violations despite the
formation of a unity government four months ago, but she also urged
donor countries not to withhold aid. Khan said their was a culture of
impunity in Zimbabwe which continued uninterrupted for the last 40
Amnesty's Irene Kahn says that despite the fact that the
unity government had introduced a new political dynamic, many
Zimbabweans still lived in fear.
"Although the level of
political violence is significantly less than last year, the human
rights situation in Zimbabwe remains precarious and the social economic
conditions are desperate," she said.
During Khan's fact-finding
mission she met human rights activists, victims of human rights
violations and senior government ministers from both ZANU-PF and the
Movement for Democratic Change.
At a press conference in
Harare, Kahn said the inclusive government had failed to prosecute
perpetrators of political violence, and senior Cabinet ministers from
both ZANU-PF and MDC told her correcting the culture of impunity was
not a priority for the new administration.
defenders, journalists and lawyers, continue to be intimidated,
harassed, threatened detained and charged often for malicious
prosecutions," she said. "Prosecutions are being pursued against 15
political activists and human rights defenders who were abducted last
year while at the same time their allegations and complaints of torture
during their disappearances are yet to be investigated."
these continued abuses, Khan said, should not deter countries from
withholding aid badly needed to rescue Zimbabwe's devastated economy.
said the unity government should not only seek economic resources and
an end to sanctions, but should ensure the security services were
reformed and that new legislation to protect human rights, freedom of
the media and assembly were priorities.
"Elements in the police
and army and other security officials have been key perpetrators of
human rights violations political violence. Yet we got no clear
indication from the government as to whether, how and when such reform
will happen," she said.
This was the first time Amnesty
International had sent its secretary-general to Zimbabwe, although Khan
says both the former ZANU-PF and the new inclusive government have
allowed the organization access.
Khan called on President Robert
Mugabe, as head of state, commander of the armed forces, and leader of
Zimbabwe for three decades to ensure that human rights were respected.
year alone, she said more than 2000 farm worker families had been
forced out of their homes and conditions in prisons remained