The UN human rights office is calling on Zimbabwean security forces to stop their violent crackdown on people protesting the government's economic austerity measures at a time when commodity prices continue their upward spiral.
Spokeswoman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani said, ‘We are deeply troubled by the socio-economic crisis that is unfolding in Zimbabwe and the repression of large-scale protests in the country, following the government’s decision to increase fuel prices,’ UN news center reported.
‘We call on the Government to find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances and to stop the crackdown against protesters,’ she said.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva at the regular biweekly press briefing, Shamdasani called on the authorities to ensure that the countrys security forces handle protests and exercise their power especially the use of firearms and live ammunition strictly in accordance with the countrys international human rights obligations and the relevant principles.
These include legality, necessity, proportionality, precaution and accountability, she explained, before noting that there had also been also allegations of ‘generalized intimidation and harassment’ by security forces, who had allegedly carried out door-to-door searches.
Last month, a national commission appointed by the Government of President Emmerson Mnanagagwa found that the military's use of live bullets during deadly post-election violence in August was disproportionate and unjustified, Shamdasani noted.
Shamdasani says there are worrying reports of security forces mounting night raids in peoples' homes, beating them up, and generally intimidating and harassing them. She says the minister of national security reports more than 600 people have been arrested across the country, including opposition leaders and prominent civil activists.
The UN agency is calling on the government to set up a national dialogue to find solutions to the economic challenges. It says state authorities must allow people to exercise their right to freedom of expression and to protect their right to peaceful assembly.
It is urging the government to carry out investigations into all reports of violence and to make sure those guilty of a crime are held accountable. (QNA)
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