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Zimbabwe to establish body to handle complaints against army, police

by Mutongi Gava
20 Nov 2020 at 06:19hrs | Views
Zimbabwe says it will introduce a bill in parliament establishing an independent complaints body to investigate public complaints against soldiers and police officers.

A constitution adopted in 2013 decreed the establishment of the body, but the government has dragged its feet.

The failure to enact the enabling legislation came into sharp focus in August 2018 when security forces killed six people and shot 35 others in post-election violence, and the January 2019 fuel price riots when at least two dozen people were killed and over 75 others shot. No troops or police officers have been charged over the killings, despite government assurances to investigate.

Following a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: "Cabinet noted that the complaints mechanism is to be intermediated by a body which is independent of each of the security services.

"Accordingly, the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill establishes a commission to carry out this function with a view to remedying any harm caused by any misconduct on the part of any member of the security services.

"The commission would investigate complaints by members of the public against members of the security services and ensure that offending members are brought to account through recommendations for disciplinary action to be taken against them and appropriate remedies be granted to complainants.

"The commission must also, through investigation, ensure compliance by members of the security services with section 208 of the constitution which requires them to be non-partisan."

She said the commission would have a "contact person from each security agency who would address issues in their respective sectors."

She did not provide a time frame for the establishment of the commission.

In the wake of the August 1 killings, a commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe recommended the prosecution of members of the security forces and compensation for victims. To date, neither has happened amid growing frustrations from families of the victims.

Rights groups say human rights abuses by security forces have worsened since March when President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a coronavirus lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

Security forces are also accused of abducting and torturing Mnangagwa's rivals while suppressing dissent, which his government denies.

Source - zimlive

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