Human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are systematically targeted and subjected to arbitrary detention, arrest, disappearance and torture.
Legislation severely curtails freedom of expression, assembly, movement and association and has led the UN Special Representative on human rights defenders to state, back in 2006, that “the human rights community as a whole, and defenders individually, are at a critical level of risk”. This statement remains valid as of today.
Despite the challenges faced, the human rights defenders community in Zimbabwe is well organised, active and broad-based in terms of issues and actors involved. It includes NGOs, faith-based groups, human rights lawyers, student activists, social movements, community-level activists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition. Womens’ rights defenders are prominent.