Saturday, 25 November 2017

Police Must Take Leaf From Military On How To Handle Protests says Zimbabwe Peace Project

The Zimbabwe Peace Project has advised the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and his officers to take a leaf from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces on how to handle protests by citizens accusing the law enforcement agents of being catalysts to violent protests.

The Human Rights watchdog's remarks come in the wake of recent mass protests by the citizens calling for former president Robert Mugabe to step down which was done under the watch of the military when there was not even a single incident of violence or looting by the protestors.

In a statement directed to Chihuri ZPP said on Saturday November 18 thousands of Zimbabwe gathered in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities to march against the continued stay in power of the then president Mugabe.
Police Must Take Leaf From Military On How To Handle Protests says Zimbabwe Peace Project

"This was the first time that Zimbabweans were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate and petition without police interference in a long time despite the constitution being clear in section 59. On the day in question Zimbabweans participated in a mass protest that drew huge numbers of people and demonstration beyond any doubt that they can exercise these rights peacefully and without infringement on other people's rights," reads ZPP statement.

"Previous attempts to march have resulted in police blocking the marches often resorting to heavy handed tactics even in instances where there has been clearance or court orders authorizing such marches under the pretext of maintaining law and order."

ZPP stated that in 2016 the government issued statutory instrument 101A which temporarily prohibited demonstrations in the Central Business Districts if Harare citing violence during protests.

"The recent protest has revealed that the violent parties in the protests and demonstrations are actually the police," ZPP said.

"As ZPP we are not aware of any incidents during the protests where lives and property were at risk. We did not even record any incidents of this nature which are common every time citizens want to exercise their right to demonstrate and petition. The police were conspicuous by their absence in the recent protest."
ZPP said the November 18 protests are sending a message to you commissioner general and the entire ZRP to rethink your approach to citizens protests.

"The incessant claims that protests are associated with violence and looting are unfounded. Apart from signs targeting Robert Mugabe way and miscellaneous traffic offences, the ZRP monitors on the ground did not record any other incidents of violence or malicious damage to property or any cases of unruly behavior," said ZPP.

"Police are urged to swap provocative and heavy handed tactics in maintaining law and order to methods used by the military on the day who were seen and demonstrated they were friends of citizens on the day. Most citizens took selfies with the military something that they would never think of doing with those under your charge."

ZPP said the absence of police of the roads has been met with a lot of good feedback by most citizens and it is from this basis that they seek that those under Chihuri's charge take a leaf from the experience Zimbabweans have with the military.

Source - Byo24News

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