U.S. Statement Re: Detention and Allegations of Torture of Political Activists in Zimbabwe

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 3, 2011.  

The United States is concerned about recent arrests in Zimbabwe targeting political and civil society activists. On February 19, police arrested former Movement for Democratic Change Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 other labor union and student activists who had gathered peacefully to discuss recent events in Egypt; they were subsequently charged with treason. In recent weeks, there have been a number of other arrests of political and civil society activists. In some of those incidents, activists claimed to have been tortured.

Mr. Gwisai’s defense attorney has reported that several of the 46 people were tortured while in custody, and we understand that the magistrate has ordered physical examinations to substantiate those claims. We call on the government to provide medical attention for those who need it and, if torture occurred, to take immediate action to hold the perpetrators accountable. We will follow closely the planned announcement of a ruling on the merits of the treason charges on March 7.

Zimbabwe has acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as such, has an obligation to uphold and ensure enjoyment of its peoples’ rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression, and protection from arbitrary arrest or detention. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold those rights and to ensure due process for those arrested.