The African Union Commission (AU) says it is concerned by reports that there is disproportionate use of force by Zimbabwe security forces in enforcing the COVID-19 emergency measures.

It is asking the government of President Emmerson Mnangangwa to uphold the rule of law and respect the human rights of its citizens.

According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 60 people were arrested following a planned mass demonstration against Mnangagwa’s government on July 31.

In a statement, the chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahammat is asking the government of Zimbabwe to allow for freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and the right to information for its citizens.

Mahammat says the government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic should ensure that the national response is tagged to respect for human rights.

The AU Commission, which has been less vocal recently on the political situation in Zimbabwe, demands that a high level of restraint by security forces is observed in response to peaceful protests.

In its virtual sessions on Tuesday, the African Union Commission on People and Human Rights discussed the political tension in Zimbabwe. It says there is no basis for arbitrary deprivation of liberty or life and the inhumane treatment or torture of citizens.

The AU Commission awaits a report by the two special envoys sent to Zimbabwe by the chairperson of the Africa Union, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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