ZimRights Calls for the Release of ZESN and ERC Staff and Volunteers in Zimbabwe

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  • ZimRights Calls for the Release of ZESN and ERC Staff and Volunteers in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), is outraged at the unlawful arrest and illegal detention of members of staff and volunteers for the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resources Centre (ERC) and calls on the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to release them without any further delays.

In the evening of 23 August 2023, armed police stormed the ZESN and ERC election data centres and offices, and in the process arresting members of staff and volunteers working on the ongoing 2023 elections and detaining them unlawfully. At the time of the release of this statement, lawyers representing the two organisations have been denied access to the victims of this aggression in violation of their constitutional rights.

This development is very unfortunate coming on the day when Zimbabwe was holding its general elections under international spotlight. This raid adds to a litany of the increasing electoral transgressions that have been committed in the run up to this election which include violence, threats of violence, voter intimidation and failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to make available relevant election material on election day to allow the people to exercise their right to vote.

A day before the elections, ZimRights released a policy and practice brief titled, ‘Facing the Fear: Confronting Threats to Personal Security and Peace in Zimbabwe ’, bemoaning the use of fear and terror in preventing the full exercise of the people’s rights in Zimbabwe. The policy brief called for behavioural change especially by security institutions that are entrusted by the Constitution of Zimbabwe with ensuring the security of the people. True to the findings of this policy and practice brief, Zimbabwean police have once again won the trophy for embarrassing the nation, making a mockery of what is supposed to be a credible democratic process. Independent election observers play an important role in building a democratic culture. In general, civil society is the voice and sight of millions of Zimbabweans who depend on their independence and expertise to appraise and support democracy and hold the government to account.

Concerned with the personal security and welfare of the detained persons, as well as the credibility of the current election processes, ZimRights calls upon the ZRP to urgently release the detained persons, return the confiscated property and allow ZESN and ERC to continue with their important work. ZimRights reiterates the call for security sector reform in Zimbabwe to ensure that the security services uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of citizens.

Issued by the ZimRights Information Department