¬†The Conference of Religious Superiors in Zimbabwe have criticised the government's land reform scheme publicly for the first time. The BBC reported yesterday that Conference has released a formal statement in support of the country's judges, who have been threatened with intimidation for criticising President Mugabe. "Zimbabwe is no longer a free country", the statement said. "People lived in abject fear of violence, crime and threats and that the rule of law is no longer respected." The document reaffirms the necessity of land reform but underlines that this must be carried out with a legal framework. It says that the fast-track land redistribution was inflicting untold misery on the farm labourers who were made redundant. The statement added that even many of the people who had been resettled onto confiscated farms faced great hardships and appeared to be pawns in a political power game. "Those who bear responsibility for the suffering of the people ≠ stated the Superiors ≠ need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions". Until recently most church leaders in Zimbabwe have taken a neutral position on the government's "fast-track" land reform scheme, which seeks to resettle five million hectares of white-owned farmland with poor black farmers. Those who have spoken out have faced death threats.