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'Hold to account Aug 1 post-election killer soldiers'

by Staff reporter
01 Aug 2019 at 21:02hrs | Views
Amnesty International (AI) has expressed concern that Zimbabwean soldiers, who a year ago opened fire on protesters in the aftermath of the general elections, killing at least six civilians and causing injuries to scores more, have still not been held accountable for their actions.

The international human rights watchdog said the army, which was illegally deployed, used live ammunition to disperse protesters in Harare after delays in the release of the presidential election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

"The tragedy of the post-election shootings is compounded by the fact that no one in the army, suspected to be responsible for the bloodshed, has been held to account for these brutal killings. This is despite the fact that the alleged perpetrators have been identified through the media and social media videos and pictures," AI deputy director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said.

"If the Zimbabwean government wants to demonstrate that it is committed to human rights, it needs to ensure that the wheels of justice start turning faster than they have done over the past year."

AI said if there is violence in the context of a protest and the use of force is unavoidable to mitigate against the threat posed by participants or bystanders, law enforcement officials must use only minimum force necessary to contain the situation.

The group also said in such circumstances, law enforcers must comply with the United Nations Basic Principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials.

"Authorities must institute a thorough, effective and impartial investigations into the killings of the protesters, some of who were killed while fleeing, with those found to have acted unlawfully brought to justice through fair trials," Mwananyanda said.

"Zimbabwean authorities should, under no circumstances, allow further impunity and cover ups for the killings. If Zimbabwe is to become a human rights respecting society, no one, including the army, should be untouchable for violating human rights."

The Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission of inquiry appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to investigate the August 1 shootings recommended the prosecution of the soldiers involved in the killings, but to date, no one has been held to account.

Source - newsday