[JURIST] The Southern African Development Community (SADC) [official website] should deploy observers to monitor the status of human rights in Zimbabwe, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged in a briefing paper [PDF text] released Tuesday. HRW Africa director Peter Takirambudde called on SADC members to "take strong and effective action" [press release] in order "to deal with one of the region's most grave crises" and added that the "SADC's credibility as a real force for change on human rights is on the line here and its leaders should insist on tangible improvements in Zimbabwe." HRW also urged the Zimbabwean government to "conduct prompt, independent, and impartial investigations into all allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention," and the excessive use of force, torture, and other "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" by government authorities.
HRW has accused Zimbabwean government agents of arbitrarily arresting and beating hundreds of human rights advocates, journalists, and members of the opposition. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum [official website] recently published a report [text; JURIST report] finding that human rights violations have steadily increased in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. The SADC, which will next meet between August 16 and 18, is composed of 14 African states. AP has more.