Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rights groups say Zimbabwe police raided gay group's offices

By AFP

A coalition of Africa rights groups on Tuesday said police in Zimbabwe had raided the offices of a gay group seizing computers and documents, about a week after 44 gays were detained.

The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) said two truckloads of 20 policemen raided the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) offices in the capital Harare on Monday claiming they were in search of illegal data and offensive materials.

Police confiscated computers and advocacy publications from the GALZ offices without producing a search warrant.

"ARASA and its partners have learned with concern that, following the assault and arbitrary detention of 44 members of the GALZ at Harare central police station on 11 August... the organisation's offices were again raided on 20 August 2012."

It said the 44 were picked up early this month as they convened to launch a lesbian and gay rights violations report and to disseminate information on the contents of the country's draft constitution.

"We... strongly condemn the recent campaign of threats, intimidation and violence targeted at human rights activists by the Zimbabwean Republic Police," the groups said in a statement.

"We are gravely concerned about the gross violation of the rights of GALZ members to be free from arbitrary arrest; torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment."

"This intimidation and harassment of civil society organisations... is unconstitutional and wholly unacceptable."

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has in the past described gays and lesbians as worse than "dogs and pigs".

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