Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe cops detained 300, says AI

2012-09-15 10:13
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Harare - Amnesty International said on Friday Zimbabwe police had indiscriminately detained over 300 people this week and randomly beaten people in a crackdown on gangs in the capital.

The arrests in Harare came amid high tensions between security forces and violent gangs of mini-bus touts who enjoyed relative impunity because of their ties with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, Amnesty said.

Police were "roaming the streets, carrying out random beatings and whippings, which is absolutely unacceptable," said Noel Kututwa, southern Africa director for the London-based human rights group.

He urged the government to "act immediately to bring the police under control".

Amnesty said witnesses had reported that riot and military police had beaten "innocent" people this week as they sought to arrest touts at mini-bus stations after clashes with the police and the army.

"The 308 people already detained must be brought before a court immediately," Kututwa said of those locked up Wednesday.

"Innocent members of the public also arrested during the police action must be released immediately and unconditionally."

He said the police attempt to restore law and order "has resulted in further chaos".

Human rights abuses

Amnesty said mini-bus touts had beaten two soldiers, and this had prompted revenge attacks by a group of about 20 soldiers early this week.

Kututwa called the recent events the "tip of the iceberg".

"Gangs linked to President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have been enjoying total impunity for human rights abuses against their political opponents and members of the public," said Kututwa.

"The culture of impunity that permeates Zimbabwe's security forces needs to be urgently addressed.

"In the run-up to the constitutional referendum and elections, when tensions are high, it is imperative that Zimbabwe is policed by a body that upholds the highest standards of impartiality."

Zimbabwe is this year expected to hold a referendum on a proposed constitution to pave the way for elections next year.

The police were not immediately available to comment.

- SAPA

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa
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