The Zimbabwean authorities must urgently step up their search efforts for abducted journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara and update the public on any progress so far, Amnesty International said today, a month after his enforced disappearance.
A High Court judge last month ordered Zimbabwean police and state security agents to search for Itai Dzamara, including by advertising on radio and newspapers, and to give fortnightly updates to the Court.
“It is worrying that a month after Itai Dzamara’s abduction, there seems to be no credible investigation in place. It is also worrying that police and state security agents have not been fully complying with the order to keep the High Court informed,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
If someone can just disappear without a trace, it begs the question who is safe in Zimbabwe? Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law that must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa
“If someone can just disappear without a trace, it begs the question who is safe in Zimbabwe? Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law that must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
On 9 March, five men abducted Itai Dzamara from a barber’s shop in Harare’s Glen View suburb. The abductors are said to have accused him of stealing cattle before handcuffing him, forcing him into a white truck with concealed number plates, and driving off.
Local activists have expressed fear that state security agents are behind the abduction. His family and human rights lawyers have been unable to establish his whereabouts, despite police at Glen Norah Police station in Harare being informed of his abduction last month.
“The enforced disappearance of a known government critic without a trace is a concern in a country with a history of violent targeting of political opponents. The best way for Zimbabwean security agents to allay fears that they were complicit in Itai Dzamara’s disappearance would be to take seriously their responsibility to establish his whereabouts and ensure his safe return,” said Deprose Muchena.