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Don’t Use Excessive Force During Lockdown: UN

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has implored the Government of Zimbabwe not to use excessive force on citizens during the process of enforcing lockdown restrictions.

In a statement, the OHCHR spokesperson, Liz Throssell said whilst Government is taking the necessary measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, it was also necessary to be humane.

“While recognizing the Government’s efforts to contain the pandemic, it is important to remind the authorities that any lockdown measures and restrictions should be necessary, proportionate and time-limited, and enforced humanely without resorting to unnecessary or excessive force.

“We encourage the Government to engage with civil society and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to grievances while ensuring that people’s rights and freedoms are protected in accordance with Zimbabwe’s human rights obligations.  These include the responsibility of the State to guarantee economic, social and cultural rights.” said Throssell.

She also expressed concern on the detentions of Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume saying the arrests suggest that the authorities are using the Covid-19 as an excuse to clampdown freedom of association and assembly.

“We are concerned at allegations in Zimbabwe, which suggest that the authorities may be using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

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“Among the latest incidents, investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested on 20 July and charged with inciting public violence, after he tweeted his support for nationwide protests against government corruption and worsening economic conditions.” said Throssell

She said they were also concerned over the manner police handled health workers who protested for better salaries recently.

“Merely calling for a peaceful protest or participating in a peaceful protest are an exercise of recognized human rights. We are concerned at reports of police using force to disperse and arrest nurses and health workers for infringing lockdown restrictions as they were trying to protest for better salaries and conditions of work,” she said.

Throssell added “This pattern of intimidation echoes the events in May when three members of the main opposition party were arbitrarily arrested and detained for taking part in a protest.”


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