Human Rights Commission condemns use of force by Zimbabwe security forces

Harare-The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has condemned the use of excessive force by the security services during last week’s demonstrations.

ZHRC said there was systematic torture instigated by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army.

“In the aftermath of the 14th January 2019 disturbances, armed and uniformed members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police instigated systematic torture. The torture was organised in that they targeted men who stay near areas where barricades had been placed and near areas that were torched or looted.

“They also targeted shared homes where they would round up many men in one homestead. In some instances it was also noted that those aligned to the MDC were also specifically targeted for example Members of Parliament, Councillors and other active members” said Commissioner Sheila Matindike

She said torture was perpetrated through beating with various weapons.

“Torture was perpetrated through beating men with baton sticks on their backs while they lay on the ground, including falanga that is beating under the feet and beating them with open hands” she said

The Commissioner also revealed that medical records show the use of excessive force.

“The amount of force evidenced by the injuries sustained by some of the complainants that were interviewed and the deaths that occurred which were supported by medical records reveal a case of police brutality. Police brutality is defined as ‘The use of excessive and or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. Excessive use of force means force well beyond what would be necessary in order to handle a situation

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She also revealed that the use of live ammunition on civilians was an example of excessive force which infringed on the right to life.

“The unleashing of live bullets on demonstrators and falanga on some complainants are examples of excessive force that was used by the police amounting to police brutality often violating the right to life. Other methods of dispersing crowds such as tear gas, rubber bullets and water canisters could have been used rather than the use of live bullets which to any reasonable person have potential of causing unnecessary deaths” she said