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.
Zimbabweans are showing the evidence of having been torn in all directions in the transitional period, according to a new poll sponsored by Freedom House and conducted by South African political analyst Susan Booysen and the Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare.
Sudan, North Korea and Uzbekistan are prominent among the most repressive regimes in the world, according to a report released by Freedom House. The study, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2007,” named seventeen countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties, and pointed to thirteen countries which have been on the list for five years or more.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
Since 2006, Freedom House has worked with upwards of 60 civil society organizations in Zimbabwe, providing a broad range of support from trainings in strategic planning and organizational security, to programs that effectively mobilize popular civic engagement.