In reaction to her “disturbing” abduction, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the president of Caritas Internationalis, has called for the immediate release of Jestina Mukoko and other missing human rights advocates in Zimbabwe.
Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was abducted from her home in Harare on December 3 when fifteen men in plain clothes broke into her family home. Her son witnessed the abduction, Caritas Internationalis reports.
Her whereabouts are still unknown.
The ZPP is a partner organization of Caritas Ireland, also known as Trócaire.
“News of the abduction of Jestina Mukoko is disturbing,” said Cardinal Rodriguez. “She is a respected human rights defender and valued partner of Caritas. Ms. Mukoko and all other human rights defenders that have been abducted should be immediately freed. The rule of law and respect for human rights must be re-established in Zimbabwe.”
Two of Mukoko’s colleagues were taken by force from their offices on December 8. Their whereabouts are also unknown and no one has taken responsibility for their abductions.
The ZPP, a human rights organization, has reportedly documented politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe. It rose to prominence during the run-up to the widely criticized June presidential election.
Human rights have drastically deteriorated in Zimbabwe, Caritas Internationalis reports. People are being indirectly denied food and clean water, health care, and education. The police and army have shot illegal diamond miners, while more than seventy people have been arrested at trade union protests.
Reportedly, civil society activists have been detained after peaceful protests and human rights advocates have been systematically targeted and detained.