By Miriam Mangwaya

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has called on local police officers to adopt the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) guidelines to instil discipline in the force.

The call came at a time the police are being accused of heavy-handedness, especially when deployed to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

In its latest COVID-19 lockdown weekly monitoring report, the human rights body said police should stop unlawful attacks on citizens.

Since the beginning of the lockdown on March 30, the police throughout the country have subjected more than 800 people, including journalists, to beatings, torture, abductions and harassments, according to statistics released by the forum.

“Government should ensure ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) develops a code of conduct in line with SARPCCO guidelines to help strengthen police discipline,” the human rights group said.

“The forum remains concerned by the conduct of police and other law enforcement officers, who continue to use excessive force during law enforcement.”

The rights group added: “The forum urgently calls upon the Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to ensure that members of ZRP stop perpetrating human rights violations, including, but not limited to beatings, excessive use of force, torture, abductions and intimidation of civilians.”

The report also reveals that cases of police brutality are on the rise following the return of commuter omnibuses in major cities and towns after relaxation of lockdown restrictions by the government.

The forum commended the Judiciary for upholding human rights through recent court orders which include instructing Harare City Council to ensure that pregnant women receive emergency medical services.

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