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Amnesty: More State-Sponsored Violence in Zimbabwe - 2001-10-24

The human rights organization Amnesty International says state-sponsored violence is increasing in Zimbabwe. The group is calling for action from the international community.

Amnesty International says the human rights situation in Zimbabwe is "serious and without expected improvement." The report says "a pattern of political repression by the ruling party" has continued in recent months and "will likely be repeated again in the months ahead."

According to Amnesty, human rights groups in Zimbabwe have reported as many as 50 politically motivated killings since early last year. The report says more killings took place during elections last month.

Amnesty urges the international community to send observers as soon as possible ahead of next year's presidential elections, due to be held by April.

But it is not at all clear whether Zimbabwe will allow those observers into the country. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge rejected a European Union deadline linked to the upcoming polls.

EU nations offered to send election observers and a pre-election team to Zimbabwe. But they said they needed to know by Monday whether Zimbabwe would accept the observer mission. The issue was set to be discussed by EU foreign ministers that day.

In response, Mr. Mudenge said Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation and will not accept what he called ultimatums from other countries. He questioned EU neutrality in the poll.

But some observers are being allowed into Zimbabwe this week. Amnesty International timed its report to coincide with a key visit by a Commonwealth team beginning Thursday. Ministers from eight countries are meeting in Harare to judge progress on an agreement reached earlier this year in Nigeria.

Under the agreement, the Zimbabwean government is supposed to restore the rule of law to the country's land reform program, and stop any further occupations of white-owned farms. In exchange, Britain has agreed to fund the redistribution of land to blacks.