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30.05.2019 Zimbabwe

Amnesty suspends Zimbabwe branch after fraud probe

By AFP
The Nobel-winning rights watchdog says it has closed its branch in Zimbabwe after discovering fraud.  By FRED DUFOUR (AFP/File)
MAY 30, 2019 ZIMBABWE
The Nobel-winning rights watchdog says it has closed its branch in Zimbabwe after discovering fraud. By FRED DUFOUR (AFP/File)

Amnesty International on Thursday suspended its local branch in Zimbabwe after uncovering evidence of fraud, in the first ever such move by the rights advocacy group.

Amnesty issued a statement saying "an extensive forensic audit was conducted in late 2018 which uncovered evidence of fraud and serious financial mismanagement".

It said that the Zimbabwe branch had been suspended from the global organisation and placed under administration and the Zimbabwean police had been informed of the audit findings.

"The decision has been made to take extraordinary measures... to protect the reputation, integrity and operation of the movement," it added.

The London-based group gave no further details, but said it would try to recover lost funds and that urgent measures had been introduced to ensure donor money was safe.

Amnesty has focused recent work in Zimbabwe on campaigning against the arrest of rights activists, promoting media freedom and calling for accountability for security forces after alleged abuses.

Last year the US cut funding to three Zimbabwean civil action groups citing "possible misuse" of money.

International rights groups in Zimbabwe have often been accused by state media of working on behalf of foreign countries to help the main opposition MDC party to overthrow the government.

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