“We are deeply troubled by the socio-economic crisis that is unfolding in Zimbabwe and the repression of large scale protests in the country, following the Government’s decision to increase fuel prices,” she said.

“We call on the Government to find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances and to stop the crackdown against protesters.

“People took to the streets to protest against economic austerity measures and the rise of fuel prices, which affect their already impoverished households and businesses, and limit access to basic goods and services.

“We support the call of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for the Government to set up a national dialogue, with wide participation of all sectors, to find solutions to the economic challenges the country is facing.

“We urge the Government to work with the support of the international community to ease the current crisis.

“We call on the Government ensure that security forces handle protests and exercise their power – especially the use of firearms and live ammunition – strictly in accordance with the country’s international human rights obligations and the relevant principles, including legality, necessity, proportionality, precaution and accountability.

“State authorities have a duty to ensure people’s rights to freedom of expression, and to facilitate and protect the right to peaceful assembly.

“It is essential that all sides, including the protestors, refrain from the use of violence and seek to resolve the situation peacefully.”

“We call on the Government to carry out investigations into all reports of violence, including the alleged excessive use of force by security forces in a prompt, thorough and transparent manner, with a view to accountability.

“All those detained for the exercise of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression should be promptly released.”

Michael Pavitt | Inside the Games