Johannesburg –- Zimbabwe security forces used excessive lethal force to crush nationwide protests in mid-January 2019.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sudden announcement of a fuel price increase of 150 percent resulted in three days of demonstrations throughout Zimbabwe in which security forces fired live ammunition, killing 17 people, and raped at least 17 women.
Zimbabwe authorities should halt ongoing abuses, release those detained arbitrarily, and appropriately prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said.
“Zimbabwe security forces carried out killings, rape, torture and other grave abuses- during and since the January protests,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“The authorities should arrest and prosecute those responsible for abuses and send a strong message that crimes by the security forces won’t be tolerated.”
While the protests have ended, the security force crackdown continues mainly in Harare, the capital. The government’s failure to address the issues underlying the protests, including the hike in fuel prices, means the situation could deteriorate further, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch’s findings are based on interviews with 45 victims of abuses and their family members, witnesses, activists, medical personnel, lawyers, police officers, and others during a research trip to Harare, Epworth, and Chitungwiza in February, and phone interviews since January.