Eight years after journalist and pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara went missing authorities are yet to give progress report on their investigation efforts to ensure his family receives justice, truth, and reparation, Amnesty International said today.
The organization believes the continued failure of Zimbabwe’s authorities to launch an effective investigation into Dzamara’s disappearance is a travesty of justice and that it sends a chilling message about the security of others who demand accountability from the government.
“The failure of Zimbabwean authorities to account for the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara, eight years after he was last seen, speaks volumes about the lack of political will to account for him,” said Lucia Masuka, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.
“The world and Itai Dzamara’s family want truth and justice for his disappearance. His family also want to be freed from the agonizing uncertainty they have been subjected to since his disappearance.”
“Today, we join Itai’s family in calling on the Zimbabwean authorities to conduct a thorough, independent, effective, and transparent investigation into Itai Dzamara’s disappearance,” said Lucia Masuka.
“Since his disappearance, no meaningful investigation has taken place and his whereabouts remain unknown. We need to see an inquiry with findings that are made public, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice.”
Amnesty International is re-iterating its call for the government to set up an independent judge-led Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances around the abduction of Itai Dzamara, with powers to subpoena witnesses. The findings of any inquiry must be made public and those suspected should be brought to justice. Members of the public with information to contribute to the Commission through submissions must also be allowed to do so and ensure of their safety and protection.
Itai Dzamara was abducted on 9 March 2015 by five men while he was at a barber shop in Harare’s Glen View suburb. His abductors are said to have accused him of stealing cattle before handcuffing him, forcing him into a white truck with concealed number plates, and driving off. He has not been seen since then and Amnesty International believes he is a victim of enforced disappearance.
Prior to his abduction, he had called for former President Robert Mugabe to step down and criticized his handling of Zimbabwe’s economy. On Saturday 7 March 2015, before his abduction, he had addressed a rally in the capital Harare where he called for mass action to address the deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe. He had previously been targeted by state security agents, beaten, abducted, and unlawfully detained. Late president Robert Mugabe had been in power for almost four decades until he was removed from office in 2017 by the ruling ZANU-PF with the help of the army.
In 2016, then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva that the government was actively pursuing the search for Itai. However, the government has failed to give regular updates on the search efforts for the activist, despite a court order issued in 2016 instructing it to do so.
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