Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Human Rights Watch urges regional pressure on Mugabe

JOHANNESBURG-Human Rights Watch on Saturday called on regional leaders to pressure Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to stop what it called abuses against opposition members despite a power-sharing deal.Heads of state of regional group SADC (Southern African Development Community) hold an emergency summit in Johannesburg on Sunday aimed at breaking deadlock over cabinet posts under the September 15 agreement between the ruling ZANU-PF and two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)."SADC must now make sure that ZANU-PF respects both the letter and spirit of sharing power. Only then will we see the fundamental reforms necessary for restoring normality and human rights protection in Zimbabwe," U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.Some SADC leaders have taken a tough line on Mugabe but the group has failed to persuade the parties to bury their differences and get on with the huge task of rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered economy.A smaller SADC meeting held in Harare last month failed to end the deadlock.Establishing a unity government is seen as critical to reversing an economic meltdown in the southern African nation where inflation is officially put at 231 million percent. Even under government price controls, the cost of bread is doubling every week.Human Rights Watch said it based its findings on more than 80 interviews in August 2008 with victims of political violence, lawyers, academics, serving and retired magistrates, and police officers in six provinces of Zimbabwe."ZANU-PF's institutions of repression remain intact, and there has been no change in their abusive conduct and attitude," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch."The regional leaders in SADC need to get tough on the party leader, Robert Mugabe, or ask the United Nations to intervene." ZANU-PF has denied allegations of abuses.The report alleges that police routinely arrest MDC activists without charge."This lack of accountability for mistreatment in Zimbabwe remains entrenched despite the signing of the power-sharing agreement on September 15," said Human Rights Watch."Police continue to detain accused persons beyond the 48-hour statutory limit, show contempt for court rulings, and frequently deny detainees access to legal representation or relatives."
As in the days of Noah...

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