, JOHANNESBURG, Mar 8 – Human Rights Watch condemned Zimbabwe on Tuesday for failing to prosecute killings and torture during the country\’s bloody 2008 election, saying new polls risked descending again into violence.
The rights group in a new report found that two years after the creation of a power-sharing government meant to end political bloodshed, members of the security forces and allies of President Robert Mugabe\’s ZANU-PF party continue to arrest, beat, torture and kill political opponents with impunity.
"There has been little or no accountability for these crimes," HRW said in its report.
"The government has not made any genuine effort to investigate, much less discipline or prosecute any of the individuals responsible."
The report comes as Mugabe pushes for new elections this year to end the uneasy power-sharing government he formed in February 2009 with long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai after a presidential run-off that was aborted by violence.
According to HRW, Mugabe\’s ZANU-PF government was responsible "at the highest levels" for attacks against allies of Tsvangirai\’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that left up to 200 dead and forced some 36,000 from their homes.
The report found that victims of abuses in 2008 often still live near their attackers and face the threat of fresh violence.
One victim identified as Tendai L told the report\’s authors his family lives in fear of their neighbours, who killed his parents in June 2008.
"It\’s a painful experience knowing that our neighbors, who we see every day, were the perpetrators," he said.
"At the next elections they will do it again because they didn\’t get arrested. We now live in perpetual fear."
Daniel Bekele, the rights group\’s Africa director, called on the power-sharing government to punish those responsible for the 2008 violence before going ahead with new polls.
"Zimbabwe will not be able to hold free, fair and credible elections until it restores the rule of law and ends impunity for serious human rights abuses," he said in a statement.
Signs of political repression have intensified in Zimbabwe as new polls loom.
Police last month arrested 46 activists for attending a discussion on the protests in Egypt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
Most of the detainees were released Monday, but eight — including a former MDC lawmaker — will face trial for treason, which carries the death sentence in Zimbabwe.