Who will defend the human rights defenders?

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A report on the harassment of human rights activists in Zimbabwe 2012 – February 2013


Zimbabwean human rights defenders (HRDs) compliment the role of the state in promotion of human rights. They however go further to demand and seek state accountability on human rights violations. The state has responded to this role by systematically harassing and intimidating them through police summons, disruption of assemblies and protests, police violence, propaganda and slandering, threats of closure, and deterrence from participating in international and regional meetings. This report details and critiques state attacks against HRDs between January 2012 and February 2013, a period during which political parties have been gearing for a referendum and elections. Such attacks demonstrate the need for the protection of human rights defenders, without whom Zimbabwean citizens will be heavily vulnerable to violations. The report illustrates that not only are Zimbabwean citizens at the mercy of perpetrators of human rights violations, but those who try to defend the citizens are also against a more formidable opponent, the state.