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Freedom House decries the arrest of prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa and four senior opposition leaders on Sunday, one day after a largely peaceful referendum on a draft constitution, and calls for their release. The referendum, which followed a marathon three-year effort to draft a new constitution, is seen as an important step towards the next Zimbabwean election. 

Freedom House calls on the Zimbabwean government to ensure a peaceful and transparent vote in the constitutional referendum on March 16. This will be the first national vote since Zimbabwe’s disputed 2008 presidential elections.

The recent state-sponsored harassment of democracy and human rights organizations in Zimbabwe is a blatant violation of citizens’ fundamental freedoms and threatens the credibility of the upcoming constitutional referendum. Freedom House calls on Zimbabwe’s leaders to end the attacks on civil society and hold accountable those responsible for ordering the raids.

On Monday, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority announced its intent to investigate President Robert Mugabe’s political party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) for crimes against humanity, following allegations of a campaign of mass rape during the months around Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. Freedom House commends South Africa’s demonstration of its human rights obligations in this decision and hopes that the investigation will dissuade further use of violence as a strategy in its upcoming elections.



Senior Director for Program Strategy, Development and Learning

Vukasin Petrovic serves as the Senior Director for Program Strategy and as the Technical Director for USAID funded Human Rights Support Mechanism.

Signature Reports

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