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Amnesty International Chief Calls Zimbabwe Human Rights Status 'Precarious'


Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan told reporters Thursday in Harare that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, though improved from 2008 when violence surged in the wake of elections, remained "precarious" while social conditions are "desperate."

Concluding her mission to Zimbabwe that included meetings with Vice President Joyce Mujuru and many other senior officials - though not with President Robert Mugabe whose office told her his schedule was full - Khan urged the Harare unity government led by Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to embrace reform, especially on human rights.

Khan is scheduled to meet Mr. Tsvangirai in London later this month.

The Amnesty International chief also urged the international community to keep pressure on Harare to respect human rights while stepping up humanitarian aid to the population.

She said broad reform of the police, army and security forces is a critical step in ensuring that human rights are respected in Zimbabwe and that political violence stops.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Harare.

VOA reporter Patience Rusere spoke later Thursday with Khan, who said from Johannesburg that some senior officials acknowledged that there were issues to be addressed on human rights but did not make a commitment to addressing them as a first priority.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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