THE World Council of Churches (WCC), concerned at the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, has urged the government to restore the rule of law and put an end to arbitrary ar
rests, torture and killings.
In a letter dated October 28 addressed to Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, the director of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, Peter Weiderud, said government should call for an immediate inquiry into cases of human rights abuses. The WCC cited the case of Beatrice Mtetwa and others who have been the subject of police brutality.
“The WCC is deeply concerned at the deteriorating law and order situation in Zimbabwe,” Weiderud said. “During the year 2003, there has been an unprecedented increase in incidents of police harassment and brutality against human rights defenders and members of the judiciary.
“The most recent of such incidents took place on the night of October 12, when Beatrice Mtetwa, a renowned human rights lawyer, was assaulted by the personnel of the Zimbabwe Republic Police at Borrowdale police station. The case of Mtetwa is not an isolated incident of police excesses.
There have been several such incidents resulting in grave and serious human rights violations of human rights defenders,” he said.
The letter also mentioned Gabriel Shumba who was a victim of police brutality in January, Justice Benjamin Paradza (February), Alec Muchadehama (March), and Reginald Chidawanyika (June), among others.
Mtetwa, who is also a director of the Zimbabwe Independent, was assaulted by police who accused her of being drunk after she was a victim of carjackers.
The WCC is a worldwide grouping of Protestant churches.
The central committee of the WCC, which met in Geneva in September this year, condemned repression in Zimbabwe.
“We share the pain and suffering of the people of Zimbabwe as a result of escalating violence and repression of fundamental human rights by the state and groups encouraged and supported by the government,” the WCC said.
“The violence, intimidation, unlawful arrest and torture perpetrated by the police, ruling-party militia and other agents must come to an end,” it said.
The WCC said the Zimbabwe government should restore the rule of law as a matter of urgency.
“We urge your government to take immediate steps to restore the rule of law and put an end to arbitrary arrests, torture and killings,” the WCC said.