The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO (Forum) has castigated the government for peddling falsehoods through State media and harassing civil society leaders.
Speaking to journalists in Harare on Wednesday, the group’s chairperson and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director Jestina Mukoko said:
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO (Forum) has noted with regret the state’s coordinated and systematic attacks on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe through falsehoods in the media and arbitrary arrests of the civil society leaders.
… There has been an increase in surveillance, office visits and interruption of our meetings by the State and this has affected our ability to implement initiatives aimed at addressing challenges which are affecting communities.
The statement follows the arrest of civic organisations leaders last week and early this week on allegations of attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government.
The activists were nabbed at the RGMI Aiport on their return from attending a workshop in the Maldives.
Mukoko said in her statement that the government should not consider human rights defenders as enemies of the state but to treat them as partners for development. She continued:
They are not enemies, but partners for development. Their work is legitimate and must not be criminalised.
The actions (by the government) not only violate the Zimbabwean Constitution and international treaties such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights but are also contrary to the spirit of the Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and the protection of all human rights defenders in Africa.
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