UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule Calls for Zimbabwe’s Government to Investigate Abuses of Activists

Country: Zimbabwe
October 1, 2019

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Clement Voule, ended his 10-day visit to Zimbabwe on September 27, 2019, and issued a statement calling for the government to do more to reduce the recent series of attacks on civil society activists and to encourage dialog between political leaders and activists. Voule’s trip was the first official visit by a UN human rights expert to Zimbabwe, providing a unique opportunity for international engagement in a long closed-off country.

Voule urged the government to do more to investigate and prevent abuses committed by government forces. He remarked “To foster impunity is to foster distrust among the population, alienating them from the government, and quashing their hopes of meaningful change in the future.”

Three days before Voule’s arrival, Dr. Peter Magombeyi, the leader of an ongoing strike by Zimbabwe’s union of doctors and nurses, was abducted by what Douglas Coltart of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights believes were government affiliated forces. During Voule’s visit Dr. Magombeyi was released, but since he had been poisoned during this capture he needed to be flown out of the country for medical treatment, thus preventing him from participating in the Rapporteur’s visit. Voule noted the seriousness of this incident in his report and said “union leaders that requested to meet with me expressed that they were living in a toxic environment of constant retaliation and fear.” Read the full report here.