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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Roy Bennett, Mr. Job Sikhala, Mr. Tichaona Munyanyi, Mr. Tendai Biti, Mr. Paul Madzore, Mr. Tumbare Mutasa, Mr. Gilbert Shoko and Mr. Nelson Chamisa, opposition members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe at the time of the submission of the complaint, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/184/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 183rd session (October 2008),

Taking into account the information provided by the Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe at the hearing held with the Committee during the 120th Assembly,

Bearing in mind that, in the March 2008 legislative elections, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) became the largest party in the House of Representatives, winning 99 of the 207 confirmed seats, that following controversy over who had won the presidential election - outgoing President Mugabe or MDC leader Tsvangirai - and the scheduling of a run-off vote, political violence killed more than 80 MDC supporters and displaced over 200,000; on 29 June 2008 Mr. Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term; in mid-September 2008, Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement which, in February 2009, led to the establishment of a Government of National Unity, led by Mr. Tsvangirai as Prime Minister,

Recalling that in the period from 2002 to 2006, Mr. Bennett and his family were the target of persistent harassment and attacks on their farm, even killing farmhands; that, in October 2004, parliament sentenced Mr. Bennett to one year in prison for having pushed Minister Chinamasa during a debate, and that he had to leave the country in 2006 for fear of his life as he was sought for allegedly planning to assassinate President Mugabe; considering that, following the formation of the National Unity Government, Mr. Bennett returned to Zimbabwe and was appointed Deputy Minister for Agriculture; that he was arrested on 13 February 2009 and first charged for an offence under the Immigration Act, a charge subsequently changed three times, and that he is now accused of possessing weaponry with the intention of using it for acts of banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism; that he was arrested and released on bail on 12 March 2009,

Recalling that Mr. Tendai Biti, together with Mr. Chamisa and many other MDC members and supporters, was severely beaten up by the police on 11 March 2007, which crime has remained unpunished to date; Mr. Biti left the country and returned on 12 June 2008, whereupon he was rearrested and charged with treason “for publishing a document that was explaining a transitional strategy around March 26” and for proclaiming victory in the March 2008 elections before the publication of the official results; considering that the charge was dropped and that Mr. Biti, who was reelected in March 2008, has been appointed Minister of Finance in the National Unity Government,

Recalling that Mr. Chamisa, in addition to the beating up of March 2007, was attacked later that month at Harare airport by a group of eight men and badly injured; that no one has been brought to justice for this crime; that Mr. Chamisa, who was re-elected, is now the spokesperson for the MDC,

Recalling further the following: Mr. Job Sikhala, who did not run in the March 2008 elections, was tortured in January 2003 while he was a member of parliament; he has provided names as to the identity of his torturers, who have nevertheless not so far been held to account; Mr. Madzore, who was re-elected, tortured and denied medical treatment during his detention in March 2007; Mr. Madzore raised this in court and, according to the information provided by the police in July 2007, the judge ordered the police to investigate the assault and a team of senior officers was entrusted with the task; Mr. Mutasa, who has since died, was reportedly attacked by policemen in March 2003 and the investigation was closed following his death; Mr. Shoko was reportedly assaulted in March 2003 by armed soldiers and policemen; no complaint has reportedly been made about the assault; however, an attack on his house in April 2002 during which Mr. Shoko was reportedly injured was investigated as a "malicious injury to property" case; Mr. Munyanyi was reportedly assaulted while in detention in October 2002 and was rearrested in June 2003; no further information has been provided on the latter three cases,

Considering that the Speaker, in his meeting with the Committee, stated that the parliament was concerned about human rights abuses and that the new political dispensation gave rise to hope that there would be fairness and justice; that owing to the separation of powers, parliament nevertheless had but limited power to oblige the competent authorities to respond to inquiries,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the House of Representatives for his cooperation and is gratified by his commitment to ensuring respect for human rights;

  2. Notes with satisfaction that the treason charges against Mr. Biti have been dropped; remains concerned, however, that the police officers responsible for having him beaten up in March 2007, along with Mr. Chamisa and others, have never been brought to justice;

  3. Remains likewise deeply concerned that no one has been brought to justice for the airport attack on Mr. Chamisa in March 2007, and for the torture suffered by Mr. Sikhala in January 2003 despite ample evidence of the identity of the torturers; urges the authorities to institute a new independent and thorough investigation without delay in order to identify and punish the culprits, who may still be serving in the Zimbabwe National Police and, given the impunity they are enjoying, may well torture again;

  4. i>Wishes to ascertain the outcome of the investigation instituted two years ago concerning the torture of Mr. Madzore;

  5. Considers that the new charges brought against Mr. Bennett are part of an ongoing effort to harass him and prevent him from engaging in political activity in Zimbabwe; requests the Committee to ensure that international trial observers are present at his trial;

  6. Stresses that parliament's oversight function is essential to the democratic functioning of society and that it has a whole range of means at its disposal to exercise it effectively; and urges the parliament to make full use of them;

  7. Notes that in recent years the sources have provided no further information on the cases of Mr. Mutasa, Mr. Shoko and Mr. Munyanyi, and consequently decides to close their cases;

  8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities and to other competent persons, inviting them to provide the requested information;

  9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 121st Assembly of the IPU (October 2009).

* Mr. Mutasa and Mr. Shoko are deceased
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