Zimbabwe: UN rights chief welcomes court intervention in favour of opposition leader

Louise Arbour

13 March 2007 – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today welcomed the Zimbabwean High Court’s order that an opposition leader be provided immediately with all necessary medical treatment and brought before the Court or released after reports that he was seriously injured in police custody.

“I welcome the speed and firmness with which Zimbabwe’s courts have acted in the face of shocking reports of police abuse,” she said in a statement on Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

According to consistent reports, excessive use of force at a rally last Sunday resulted in one death and many casualties, including women and children. Several people, including five senior members of the MDC are in police custody. Mr. Tsvangirai was reportedly seriously injured as a result of beatings sustained in custody.

“This form of repression and intimidation of a peaceful assembly is unacceptable, and the loss of life makes this even more disturbing,” Ms. Arbour said. “I urge the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure an immediate, impartial and comprehensive investigation into these events. I encourage the courts to continue to discharge their responsibilities as guardians of the rights of all Zimbabweans.”

Yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Government to release opposition leaders being held by police and condemned the reported beatings they suffered in custody.

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