Zim torture on the rise

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has intensified its use of torture and arbitrary arrests to suppress opposition to President Robert Mugabe's 26-year rule, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday.

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has intensified its use of torture and arbitrary arrests to suppress opposition to President Robert Mugabe's 26-year rule, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday.

"When Zimbabweans engage in peaceful protest, the government responds with brutal repression," said HRW's Georgette Gagnon in a 28-page report.

"The authorities use torture, arbitrary arrest and detention to deter activists from engaging in their right to freely assemble and express their views."

Mugabe has often faced accusations by the West and rights groups of oppressing his opponents.

HRW said rights abuses were on the increase as the economic and political situation in the country continued its downward spiral.

The government in Harare trashed the report, saying it was part of a campaign by the West to blemish Zimbabwe's image.

Mugabe assumed power in 1980 after the country was given its independence by Britain. - Sapa-AFP

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