- The Africa director Human Rights Watch said Zimbabwe's mediation talks cannot succeed unles the human rights violations - the root cause of the crisis - are addressed.
Georgette Gagnon, whose comments were published by 'The Independent', urged the lead mediator President Thabo Mbeki and other Southern African Development Community leaders to press Zimbabwe's leadership to address crucial human rights issues prior to any transitional government.
"The government of Zimbabwe has committed and continues to commit serious crimes," Gagnon said, backing the claims with "multiple Human Rights Watch interviews with witnesses ranging from newly elected opposition MPs, councillors, activists and perceived supporters of the MDC who demonstrate the "serious nature of abuses committed" by the government and ruling party militias.
Gagnon said despite the ongoing negotiations between the government and opposition, "horrific abuses continue" and that hundreds of MDC activists who fled the violence before the 27 June runoff remain in hiding, as "war veterans" and youth militia continue to terrorise villager in the rural areas.
Local non-governmental organisations accused the ruling Zanu-PF and its allies of killing at least 163 people as well as beating and torturing more than 5,000 people over the past three months.
Even after the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding violence persists. Two people were since then killed.
Leaders were also urged to press police to dismantle all torture camps and bases and prosecute those responsible for torture and other mistreatment.
"The politically motivated arrests of MDC officials serve to undermine Zimbabwe's claims to democracy. The state should halt this campaign and release those arbitrarily detained," Gagnon said, adding that an effective and impartial investigation and proseuction of the abuses will end Zimbabwe's culture of impunity.
Zimbabwe's rival parties are yet to agree on the establishment of a power-sharing government, although President Mbeki was convinced that it will soon happened, as both parties felt the necessity to do so.
"Soon we shall have a government that will include all parties and they will be represented in parliament," said Mr. Mbeki.
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