Human Rights Watch: World Report - 2017

Zimbabwe Events of 2016



During 2016, the government of President Robert Mugabe intensified repression against thousands of people who peacefully protested human rights violations and the deteriorating economic situation. It disregarded the rights provisions in the country’s 2013 constitution, and implemented no meaningful human rights reforms.

Police abuse increased, and there was excessive use of force to crush dissent. Human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, and government opponents, were harassed, threatened or faced arbitrary arrest by police. Widespread impunity continues for abuses by police and state security agents.

The president publicly attacked judges for “reckless” rulings that allowed public protests against his rule, further eroding judicial independence. He also undermined the independence of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), established as an independent commission under the constitution, when he verbally attacked the institution....

Rule of Law

Authorities continued to ignore human rights provisions in the country’s 2013 constitution. The government did not enact new laws or amend existing laws to bring them in line with the constitution and Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations. The government has not repealed or amended the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and other laws that severely restrict basic rights. In terms of criminal law, sex between men is punishable with up to one year in prison and a fine.

On September 3, President Mugabe interfered with the judiciary’s independence by publicly attacking judges for “reckless” rulings that allowed protests against his government. His statements also undermined Zimbabwe’s international human rights law obligations to respect due process and judicial independence under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On September 9, Mugabe undermined the independence of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission when he dismissed its report as “absolutely false” and described its chairperson as “stupid.” The commission had published a report showing that partisan government officials had denied food aid to opposition supporters. The commission found the government had violated rights to equality, non-discrimination, and the right to sufficient food. An estimated 4.5 million people needed food aid in 2016.

Authorities have not fully investigated the March 9, 2015 abduction and enforced disappearance of pro-democracy activist and human rights defender Itai Dzamara, who remained missing at time of writing. There has been no progress toward justice for serious past human rights crimes.  

To read the full report, click on the following link: