Harare – Today, marks exactly two years of the unresolved abduction by five men suspected to be state security agents of pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara. Dzamara, who was among four people recently honoured with an international Lifetime Achievement recognition by Amnesty International and won the ZimRights Overall Human Rights Defender of the Year 2015 award, was the founder of Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS).
The callous abduction of Dzamara on March 9, 2015, while having a haircut in Harare’s Glenview suburb was a gross violation of human rights and a clear sign that the human security of Zimbabwean political activists and human rights defenders is a major issue of concern.
Before his abduction, it is public knowledge that Dzamara was a government critic and called for President Robert Mugabe to resign through a petition he personally delivered to the president’s offices.
His abduction came after he had been severally interrogated by state security institutions and even assaulted by the police, which led to his hospitalisation together with his lawyer, Kennedy Masiye.
ZimRights is concerned by the apparent lack of interest by the authorities in solving this major human rights issue in total disregard of the High Court order of March 2015, which mandated state security institutions to find Dzamara.
What is even more disconcerting is the fact that abductions of a similar nature have continued recently, although the victims were later found alive dumped in farm areas around Harare last year.
A few examples include the cases of protest artist Silvanos Mudzvova and activist Kudakwashe Kumbakunje who were taken from Harare, tortured and injected with unknown substances last year.
Before Itai Dzamara’s abduction, there had been the disappearances of other activists and politically connected persons such as Paul Chizuze, Patrick Nabanyama and Rashiwe Guzha.
Furthermore, there is even more testimony of the State’s condemnable attitude towards enforced disappearances in the fact that Zimbabwe has neither signed nor ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The fact that ruling party Members of Parliament have previously walked out on a debate on Dzamara’s abduction is unfortunate confirmation of the attitude and failure to deal with the crucial issue by critical institutions of the State.
ZimRights appeals to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and international human rights institutions to investigate the problem of enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe.