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Mugabe Orders Release of Catholic Human Rights Officials

June 6, 1986

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Two leaders of a Roman Catholic human rights group reported to security police headquarters again today after having been freed hours earlier on Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s orders.

Commission for Justice and Peace chairman Mike Auret and director Nicholas Ndebele reported to the central police station early today at the request of police, Auret said. It was not known why they were summoned.

Both men were detained under emergency powers regulations Thursday by police who picked them up at the commission.

Auret said Mugabe intervened on their behalf late Thursday after Auret’s wife appealed to the prime minister.

Detainees can be held under emergency powers indefinitely and hundreds of Zimbabweans have been held under the laws since independence six years ago.

Before he was detained Thursday, Auret said he believed Home Affairs Minister Enos Nkala ordered he be held on suspicion that the commission supplied information on human rights violations in Zimbabwe to the Amnesty International.

The London-based Amnesty International often has criticized security forces in Zimbabwe for alleged human rights violations, including the torture of civilians in Matabeleland province, the tribal stronghold of opposition leader Joshua Nkomo. Security forces have been fighting armed rebels there since 1982.

Nkala in May charged that Amnesty International had ″infiltrated″ local churches. He said at the time, ″I might have to hammer them.″

Mugabe led the former British colony of Rhodesia to independence in 1980 after Britain arranged a constitutional conference, a cease-fire and national elections.

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