JOHANNESBURG, Dec 14, 2007 (AFP) – Violence and torture by Zimbabwe’s police against rights activists and opposition members are on the increase despite ongoing mediation efforts, Amnesty International said on Friday.
“Organised police violence and torture has continued during the SADC mediation — in fact, the severity of beatings and torture has been increasing,” said Amnesty’s Simeon Mawanza who was the head of a team of researchers who have recently returned from the southern African country.
“We have collected evidence from a wide range of sources, including victims, doctors and lawyers, showing how some units — particularly the Law and Order Section — within the Zimbabwean police enjoy total impunity for human rights violations perpetrated against government critics.”
The rights body found police continue to use “excessive force and torture” to suppress freedom of association and assembly by human rights defenders and by members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“Police stop small demonstrations by just scores of human rights defenders. Once in police custody, human rights defenders and MDC members are severely assaulted and denied access to lawyers, food and medical car