On July 30, Zimbabweans vote in the first national elections which, for the first time in 38 years will not have Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper. If necessary, a presidential runoff election will be held on September 8. This blog will post live updates from a Human Rights Watch team on the ground in Zimbabwe focusing on the human rights environment including the full enjoyment of rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly prior to, during, and after the elections. This blog will spotlight security forces involvement in the electoral process, application of the laws, and incidents of intimidation and violence and the overall impact on the elections.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Statement on Elections and Post-Election Violence
Statement on the 2018 Election and Post Election Environment @SABCNewsOnline @mishbulo1 @DailyNewsZim @DavidColtart @giz_gmbh @euinzim @HeraldZimbabwe @ZBCNewsonline @advocatemahere @ZLHRLawyers @LRFZimbabwe @veritaszim @kubatana @eNCAnews_Rose @ZimNgo @UNDPZimbabwe @harumutasa pic.twitter.com/w5HnzoqRpg— Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (@zhrc365) August 10, 2018
Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa's Statement on Release of Tendai Biti
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has issued a statement announcing the release of Tendai Biti. We will update as more information is known.
Breaking: @edmnangagwa says @BitiTendai was released today after he intervened. It is unclear how he intervened, with what implications for the independence of the judiciary. Law yers, comments? @Rex27 @Wamagaisa @tsunga_arnold @kaajal1 @veritaszim @CatherineMakoni @RevaiMakanje pic.twitter.com/19jvYXOf8x— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) August 9, 2018
Tendai Biti Appears in Court in Harare
Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti appeared in court today after being taken into police custody following his asylum claim denial in Zambia.
Police @PoliceZimbabwe confirm @BitiTendai faces public violence charge & unofficial or false declaration of results. @kaajal1 @ZLHRLawyers @MDCAllianceZW @hrw @georginagodwin @YGwashawanhu @263Chat @ZULUBLE @PedzisaiRuhanya pic.twitter.com/zNqUN6BUSr— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) August 9, 2018
Breaking: @BitiTendai granted bail which the State did not oppose. Bail conditions: To pay US$5000 bail & surrender passport. To stay at his given address & not to interfere with witnesses. @ZLHRLawyers @MDCAllianceZW @kaajal1 @263Chat @povonewsafrica @georginagodwin @hrw pic.twitter.com/t9h00s0zE5— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) August 9, 2018
Response to Zambian Government Explanation of Asylum Denial and Deportation Order
Zambia violated its domestic and international law obligations when it forcibly returned Tendai Biti and three others to Zimbabwe after they applied for asylum and in defiance of a court order barring such deportation.
True or not, those aren’t the standards that govern asylum decisions ma’am. @BitiTendai and those with him had a well-founded fear of persecution. Also, your govt defied a court order. So let’s not confuse people. https://t.co/8ne8HGuyF5— Nicholas Dawes (@NicDawes) August 9, 2018
Zambia’s minister of information is now offering a time-travel rationale for sending @BitiTendai and his party back to Zimbabwe. Let’s be clear: they were returned after the court order, and in defiance of the court order. https://t.co/nhYUQCf4jN— Nicholas Dawes (@NicDawes) August 9, 2018
UNHCR Statement on Deportation of Opposition Members
The UN Refugee Agency has issued a statement expressing concern over Zambia's refusal of asylum claims and subsequent deportation of Tendai Biti and other Zimbabwe opposition members.
UNHCR concerned over reports of forced return of Zimbabwean asylum-seeker https://t.co/weFWXNvqLQ— UNHCR News (@RefugeesMedia) August 9, 2018
Denied Asylum by Zambia, Opposition Leader Back in Harare
Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti is now back in Harare after being denied asylum by Zambia and deported, despite his lawyers obtaining a court order to halt the deportation.
Breaking: @BitiTendai & 3 others deported from Zambia today in violation of court order & international law now at Harare Central @PoliceZimbabwe where @ZLHRLawyers there with legal support. @RefugeesMedia @Studio7VOA @violetgonda @YGwashawanhu @263Chat @ZULUBLE @kaajal1 pic.twitter.com/eDmpQs5gO2— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) August 9, 2018
Breaking: Lawyers just told @hrw Zambian Authorities have defied court order & deported @BitiTendai, @mlilonqo & Tawanda Chitekwe back to Zimbabwe. shocking disregard for rule of law by Zambia @EdgarCLungu @RefugeesMedia @VOAAfrica @ZLHRLawyers @263Chat @ZULUBLE @CyrilRamaphosa pic.twitter.com/xWVv01etsO— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) August 9, 2018
Zambia Denies Asylum Claim by Zimbabwe Opposition Leader
Zambian Immigration authorities today rejected a claim of asylum by Tendai Biti, a leading figure in the MDC Alliance opposition party who fled post-election violence and certain arrest in Zimbabwe.
Zambia also rejected claims by five others travelling with Biti – lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo, civil society activist Zachariah Godi, and opposition activists Tawanda Chitekwe, Kudakwashe Simbaneuta, and Clever Rambanepasi – who lodged their application for asylum at the Chirundu border post.
The six fled the violent security forces’ crackdown in Zimbabwe that has followed post-election protests on August 1.
Biti told Human Rights Watch by phone that the Zambian authorities told him and his five companions that there were no grounds to grant them asylum and were planning to deport them back to Zimbabwe. Biti asked Human Rights Watch to help seek the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) urgent intervention to prevent his forced return to Zimbabwe where he fears for his life.