Amnesty International, a human rights organisation has criticised the decision by the Zimbabwe Republic Police to press criminal charges against three female opposition MDC-Alliance party youth leaders for participating in a peaceful flash food protest during the lockdown period.
Responding to the decision, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa said:
Joana Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova are victims of police brutality, sexual assault and enforced disappearance. Before charging them for allegedly breaking the lockdown rules, authorities must investigate the crimes against them.
The charges against these three women are a travesty and ploy to intimidate the opposition and send a chilling message that anyone who challenges the government is putting themselves at risk.
The Zimbabwean authorities should hold to account those suspected to be responsible for the enforced disappearance and sexual assault of the three female opposition leaders, rather than intimidating them with criminal charges. The charges should be dropped immediately.
Meanwhile, the trio appeared before Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko who remanded them pending a bail ruling on Thursday.
Some are of the view that the state is behind the abductions and torture of opposition members and human rights defenders in the country.
More: Amnesty International