Harare - Zimbabwe has failed to end human rights abuses
despite adopting a new constitution that enshrines democratic rights, global
rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Monday.
Zimbabwe's constitution, accepted in a national referendum
in March, requires the repeal of sweeping security laws used by loyalist police
to target long-time President Robert Mugabe's opponents but the government
hasn't yet done so.
The group said intimidation and arbitrary arrests of rights
activists and critics of Mugabe persist.
Amnesty's report, titled "Zimbabwe: Agenda for The
Government 2013-2018", said despite the new constitution police ahead of
the July election raided offices and seized equipment of civic groups carrying
out voter education as well as those viewed to be critical of Mugabe's rule.
Several rights activists were arbitrarily arrested,
unlawfully detained, faced trumped up criminal charges and unreasonably denied
bail with some spending long periods in prison waiting to appear in court, said
"In all the cases documented, the activists were
acquitted or the state abandoned the cases, or the cases are pending," the
Mugabe's government should use the new constitution as
"a golden opportunity" to improve its poor human rights record and
allow for freedom of expression, said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty's deputy director
for southern Africa.
Mugabe’s new government
"The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for
the government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver justice for
its people and to allow freedom of expression. With political will, all that is
possible," Kututwa said.
Following Mugabe's re-election in the disputed polls in
July, police continued to breach the new constitution by breaking up a
demonstration by women activists and banning a youth march to mark World Peace
Day in September.
Baton-flailing police in Harare dispersed activists from
Women of Zimbabwe Arise, or WOZA, who were calling for action to improve living
standards for Zimbabwe's poorest. Several members of the group were arrested
for questioning in the second city of Bulawayo.
The police defended their actions describing the country's
current political environment as not "conducive" for marches.
Kututwa said Mugabe's new government should send "a
clear signal" that it will end rights violations.
"The rights to freedom of expression and association of
all those working to promote or protect human rights must be respected,"
he said. "The government must immediately and unconditionally drop the
charges against anyone arrested for exercising their internationally guaranteed