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Startseite Urgent Actions 2010 09 Community evicted without warning
UA 193/10
Abgeschlossen am 20. Oktober 2010

Community evicted without warning

AI-Index: AFR 46/015/2010


A community of some 250 people in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, have been left without shelter after police forcibly evicted them and set fire to their homes, without any prior notice. The community are now living out in the open, in many cases having also lost their possessions. The government has not offered the community food, water or shelter.

According to those forcibly evicted, at about 12.30am on 25 August, police raided and destroyed an informal settlement at Borrowdale Race Course in Harare’s suburb of Gunhill. At least 30 uniformed police officers were present, some of whom were armed or had dogs. There was no prior notice or consultation with the community. They were given 10 minutes to remove their possessions from the structures where they lived, before police officers began setting fire to their homes. Some people did not have time to retrieve their possessions. Some of the group were then forced to remain in a police vehicle until the early hours of the morning when they were taken to Harare Central Police Station. Fifty five community members, including five children, were detained for several hours without charge, and without access to lawyers.

Police gave no indication to community members or their lawyers of the reason why the eviction was carried out. It remains unclear who instigated it. Without alternative shelter, victims retuned to the site of the settlement at Gunhill and are now living in the open. Many have lost both their homes and their possessions.

Additional Information

In July 2009 the same community came under threat when the Deputy Mayor of the Harare City Council stated that the city authorities were considering evicting people from “illegal settlements and market places to restore order.” The Deputy Mayor claimed that the targeted people were posing a health hazard and violating city by-laws.
Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action as a result of this threat (see UA 196/09, AFR 46/021/2009: and follow-up).  The Mayor of Harare then met with Amnesty International representatives, and a coalition of stakeholders including the Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA), whose Chair acted as a spokesperson for the coalition; the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
In December 2009 the Mayor of Harare sent a letter to Amnesty International, in which he acknowledged receiving petitions and letters from Amnesty International members and supporters. In his letter, the Mayor stated that "due to the concerns expressed by some stakeholders, the intended exercise is being revisited …In the case of informal settlements, no effort will be spared in looking for alternative shelter for those affected before they are removed. Every effort will be undertaken to undertake the whole effort as humanely as possible.”
The office of the Mayor of Harare has denied that the City of Harare was responsible for the recent forced eviction.

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