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Published: August 18, 2012
The European ambassadorial delegation in Zimbabwe has blasted Zimbabwe for the recent arrest of 44 gay activists who were engaging in discussions over the draft constitution.
The gay activists who are members of the Harare based Gays and Lesbians association of Zimbabwe were discussing a report on violations of their rights when riot police pounced on them on August 11.
They were reportedly beaten by the police and denied access to their lawyers during the period of their detention.
“The harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, including restrictions on their right to freedom of assembly, is deeply worrying,” the EU said.
“The incident raises particular concern in the context of concluding the constitution-making process as well as in preparing for democratic elections.
“It is critical that the police respects Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations and demonstrates impartiality in order to generate necessary faith in these important political processes.”
Homosexuality is outlawed in Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe refers to gays and lesbians as worse than dogs and pigs.
The group had been reportedly discussing the 2011 Rights Violations Report, which documents cases of police harassment and arbitrary arrest of GALZ members.
United States also condemned the arrest of the 44 saying it was part of a systematic attack on civil society in Zimbabwe.
“The targeting and abusive treatment of non-governmental groups by members of the police is deeply disturbing part of life in Zimbabwe,” the US Embassy in Harare said.
“Too often, the Zimbabwe Republic Police becomes an instrument of political violence for use against citizens exercising their democratic rights, rather than maintaining its proper role of the people’s protector and guardian of law and order.”
The EU welcomes President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s recent public calls for peace and for people to avoid resorting to violence. We encourage all Zimbabweans to join these unambiguous calls against violence and violations of human rights. – Radiovop