Concern rises over missing human rights activist

Fear has once again gripped the human rights community after Paul Chizuze, a paralegal who has served as a human rights activist for many years, went missing on Wednesday 8 February 2012. Chizuze left his home in Bulawayo around 8pm on that day in his white Nissan Wolf, Registration Number ACJ 3446 which is also missing.

Chizuze, who has worked with various Civil Society Organisations including Legal Resources Foundation, Zimrights and the Catholic Commission for Justice, is known for the work he has done in documenting human rights violations. He has also worked closely with Education Minister David Coltart and has searched for missing human rights activists without tiring, including leading efforts to search for Coltart's election agent, Patrick Nabanyama, who disappeared at the height of political violence in 2000; and has never been found. He has since been declared dead.

Ten civil society organisations led by Churches in Bulawayo and Solidarity Peace Trust have since issued an appeal fearing he may have been murdered, hijacked or abducted. The main reason for worry is that tensions are on the rise with increased talk of elections and the escalation in attacks and arbitrary arrests of human rights activists across the country. Many other members of the civil society have intensified their efforts to find him and have called on the police to pursue all possibitities.

The period around the 2008 sham elections and Re-run witnessed a significant number of abductions as many MDC supporters, journalists and human rights activists were kidnapped only to be found dead, in prisons; or were never found. In December 2008, prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist and National Director of Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home by 15 armed men who identified themselves as police. She was later found at Matapi Police Station facing trumped up terrorism charges.

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