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Rights defenders list 245 violations during Zimbabwe virus lockdown

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of 20 rights groups, said it had petitioned the country’s police chief and home affairs minister over escalating rights abuses.

Zimbabwean flag. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

HARARE - Zimbabwean human rights watchdogs on Friday said they had recorded more than 200 rights violations, allegedly committed by state agents, during a coronavirus lockdown.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of 20 rights groups, said it had petitioned the country’s police chief and home affairs minister over escalating rights abuses.

"About 245 violations... have been recorded since the start of the lockdown," Jestina Mukoko, who chairs the coalition, told reporters in Harare.

The forum is "appalled and outraged by the continued human rights violations that are openly taking place in Zimbabwe and perpetrated by the members of the... police," Mukoko said.

The monitors in particular called on police to launch a criminal investigation into the "abduction and torture" of a prominent opposition lawmaker and two other senior party officials.

The three, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were arrested following flash demonstrations over food shortages that have occurred during the coronavirus lockdown.

The all-female trio were first detained at the country's main police station, the coalition said.

They were then taken by unidentified men and driven several kilometres (miles) out of town, where they were allegedly beaten up, sexually assaulted and dumped by a roadside.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last weekend said a lockdown imposed on 30 March to control the spread of coronavirus would stay in place for the moment, but be reviewed every two weeks.

The country has so far recorded 51 COVID-19 cases, including four fatalities.

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