MEPs deplore the arrests of human rights defenders and violent attacks on civil society in Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and Chechnya.
Speaking with regards Zimbabwe the MEPs recommended the tightening of sanctions on senior Zimbabwe officials and institutions on Thursday citing increased repression by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
It said “continued attacks, hate speech, smear campaigns, acts of intimidation and harassment and… acts of torture” against human rights defenders had undermined democracy.
The MEPs, in a resolution adopted at the end of their meeting in which Zimbabwe was one of three countries citied for breaching human rights, called on Mnangagwa to “remain true to his inaugural promises” and to put Zimbabwe “back on the path of reconciliation and respect for democracy and the rule of law.”
European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe were first imposed in 2002, and grew to cover nearly 200 individuals who were subject to a travel ban and asset freeze, but have been loosened progressively with only seven people and one entity still subject to sanctions, which expire on February 20.
Zimbabwe was urged to stop the systematic torture used by soldiers and police.
The situation of human rights in Zimbabwe remains critical. Rising poverty and declining living standards are pushing the country to the brink. Between 14 and 18 January 2019, Zimbabwe witnessed a surge in demonstrations, following an 150% increase in fuel prices. Moreover, the outcome of the first presidential and parliamentary elections held in the country on July 2018 resulted in an outbreak of post electoral violence.
MEPs condemn the excessive violence used by police to suppress the riots.
They denounce the fact that the soldiers and the police used systematic torture.
During the protests, “more than 17 people were killed and hundreds were injured, while around a thousand people were arrested, including children between 9 and 16 years old”, the report says. Cases of rape and destruction of property were also reported.
MEPs urge the government of Zimbabwe to immediately withdraw all military personnel and the youth militia who have been deployed across the country terrorising residents and in clear violation of the Zimbabwean Constitution. They also call on the Zimbabwean authorities to “undertake a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including rape and sexual violence by security forces and bring those responsible to justice”.
The resolution was approved by a show of hands.
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