International rights groups petition Mugabe over Dzamara

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ZIMBABWE – Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called on other civic groups in Africa to join them in a plea to President Robert Mugabe to investigate and resolve the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of journalist-cum-human rights activist Itai Dzamara. 

In a joint petition expected to be handed over to Mugabe on November 30, the two international human rights groups said the President should direct the government to take all measures necessary to establish the fate and whereabouts of Dzamara, who went missing on March 9 this year.

“We call on you to promptly establish a commission of enquiry into the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara and ensure that those suspected of criminal responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials. The pro-democracy activist has not been accounted for since his disappearance on March 9, 2015,” the document read.

The 36-year-old pro-democracy activist was allegedly abducted by suspected State security agents while at a barber shop in Harare’s Glen View suburb.

The High Court ordered the ministers of Home Affairs (Ignatius Chombo) and State Security (Kembo Mohadi), the Police Commissioner-General (Augustine Chihuri) and the Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation (Happyton Bonyongwe) to investigate Dzamara’s disappearance and report fortnightly on progress.

“We note that Itai Dzamara had previously been targeted by State security agents, beaten up, abducted and unlawfully detained.
Other activists have been previously abducted in similar manner by unknown perpetrators, who later turned up to be State security agents,” the two groups said.

The human rights organisations said they were concerned with the paucity of detail contained in the reports sent so far by the police to the Registrar of the High Court.

They described the reports as inadequate and perfunctory, providing “no substantive details” of steps taken by the police except to confirm that investigations into Dzamara’s disappearance were underway.

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