On the Days of Darkness in Zimbabwe – An Updated Report on the Human Rights Violations Committed between 14 January 2019 to 5 February 2019


On 12 January, 2019, President Mnangagwa announced during a press conference that the fuel prices would increase to $3.11 per litre for diesel and $3.31 per litre for petrol due to the increased demand for fuel, and illegal black market. Following the announcement by President Mnangagwa, the Forum deployed monitors on 13 January to monitor citizen reactions to the fuel price increase. Our monitors visited Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana, and Harare CBD. The environment was recorded as tense, with one incident of citizens protesting through creating a roadblock in Kuwadzana. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)and #ThisFlag movement called for a 3-day national stay away from 14 –16 January, 2019 in response to the fuel crisis. On the day of the stay-away, protests broke out mainly in Chitungwiza, Bulawayo and Harare’s high density suburbs leading to clashes between the police and the protestors. What followed was a ‘de facto’ state of emergency. In unclear circumstances, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) was unlawfully deployed into the streets and residential areas where they unleashed a reign of terror on anyone they came across. This report details at least 1803 violations committed since January 14, 2019, across the whole country.

The violations of human rights that started as the state’s response to mass protests on 14 January, 2019 following the increase in fuel prices immediately took a widespread systematic character, the dominant actors being the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and suspected ZANU-PF militia. The systematic and sustained nature of the violations raises fear that this is becoming a case of crimes against humanity. Over the past three weeks, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum(the Forum)has documented at least 1803 violations of human rights, the ZNA and ZRP being implicated in all categories of violations. The figures have since increased since the last report by the Forum released on 18 January 2019, as additional and fresh reports were documented. To date, the violations include at least 17 extra-judicial killings, 17 cases of rape or other violations of a sexual nature, 26 abductions, 61 displacements, 81 assaults consistent with gunshot attacks, at least 586 assaults and torture, inhuman and degrading treatment including dog bites, 954 arrests and detention (including dragnet arrests), among other violations.

The violations are systematic, unleashed mainly by male perpetrators whom the victims identified as wearing either military or police attire, armed with AK rifles and or baton sticks, travelling in army and police vehicles. The targets of attack were initially male population in high density suburbs but later become indiscriminate to include women and young girls. Recently credible reports of sexual assault, including rape have emerged. 16 cases of rape and 1 case of sexual assault were documented. There could be more. Cases of abductions and displacements are mainly targeted at civil society leaders and opposition party activists in both urban and rural areas. The attacks by the state media has since widened to include the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC). The LSZ has reported on what appears to be cases of systematic violation of the right to fair trial which seem to be taking place in the Magistrates Courts across the country whereas the ZHRC has raised concern on the human rights violations that ensued during and after the #shutdown.

The Forum has started the process of pursuing justice and accountability for the victims. At least 24 letters of demand have been issued claiming about USD1,200 000.00 million from the perpetrators. This report updates the Forum report of the 18th of January 2019 and summarises violations received between 14 January 2019 to 31 January and the interventions of members of the Forum. Key to the compilation of this report is the work done by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the Counselling Services Unit and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) in coordinating emergency response and assisting victims in the line of fire.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

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