THE United States (US) State Department has accused President Robert Mugabeâ€™s government of abusing the rights of Zimbabweans through â€œincreased use of violence and intimidationâ€ last year.
In its annual human rights report released on Wednesday, the State Department alleged that leaders and supporters of political opposition parties were abducted, arrested, beaten, tortured and killed, in 2008.
The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, first released in 1977, are submitted annually to the US Congress in compliance with the Federal Foreign Assistance Act.
According to the report, Mugabe and Zanu PF engaged in â€œthe pervasive and systematic abuse of human rightsâ€ during a year in which it was challenged by the MDC in parliamentary and presidential elections.
â€œThe ruling partyâ€™s dominant control and manipulation of the political process through violence, intimidation, and corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change their government,â€ the report concluded.
â€œUnlawful killings and politically motivated abductions increased. State-sanctioned use of excessive force increased, and security forces tortured members of the opposition, student leaders, and civil society activists with impunity.â€
The State Department concluded that during 2008 Mugabeâ€™s government â€œor its agentsâ€ killed more than 193 citizens in political violence, and the MDC claimed approximately 200 more of its members and supporters were â€œmissing and presumed deadâ€.
The report said Zimbabweâ€™s security forces, paramilitary forces such as Zanu PF youths and war veterans, and other supporters had engaged in politically motivated killings, and that there have not been any prosecutions or convictions in any of the nearly 200 cases.
Hundreds of opposition and civil society members were also reportedly abducted and tortured.
The report said the majority of the victims were held for one or two days and then abandoned. At the end of 2008, 32 people remained either in police custody without charge or were listed as missing.
The countryâ€™s judicial independence was compromised by reports of government bribes and intimidation of judges, according to the State Department, and security forces also arrested and detained labour leaders, journalists, demonstrators and religious leaders during 2008. â€” Staff Writer.