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Zimbabwe Briefing Issue 47
in Zimbabwe Coalition
(SA Regional Office)
October 12, 2011
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Zim government fails Human Rights test
has failed a human rights appraisal conducted by 27 local and influential
civil society organisations (CSO)'s. This is the "verdict"
of 27 CSO's in a document entitled the "Advocacy
Charter" summing up in detail the human rights track record
of the country's coalition government.
including the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights said the coalition government has failed
to implement its own declared objectives on key issues like human
rights, ending torture, freedom of expression and assembly, relations
with labour and trade unions other commitments.
the Advocacy Charter, which was prepared by local civil society
organisations in relation to the government's National Report,
Zimbabwe has not ratified all the outstanding human rights treaties
and their Optional Protocols such the United Nations Convention
Against Torture, Cruel or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons
Against Enforced Disappearances. The government has also not ratified
the Optional Protocols to Convention on the Elimination of all Forms
of Discrimination Against Women, International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social
Cultural Rights and the Convention Rights of the Child.
noted that although the government had created commissions on human
rights, the media, anti-corruption and elections no measures were
put in place to ensure that the legislative framework for the independent
commissions comply with the international norms and standards and
to address human rights abuses which were committed over the last
The civil society
organisations criticised the government for failing to adhere to
the recommendations of the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary
General for Human Settlement, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka to ensure
that victims of the 2005 Operation
Murambatsvina have access to housing. Although the Zimbabwean
guarantees freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, the CSO's
contended that the government had not taken any serious steps to
criminalise torture in all of its laws and fully corporate with
the United Nations thematic mechanisms on torture.
In their three
page assessment forming the Advocacy Charter, the CSO's observed
that the Zimbabwe government's National Report is silent on
arbitrary arrests and detention. They demanded to be upraised of
the measures that the government is taking to prevent the arbitrary
arrest and detention of citizens in particular Human Rights Defenders
(HRDs) and members of Civil Society Organisations during peaceful
demonstrations, or when they are conducting their activities.
to elections, the CSO's observed that the government has in
recent elections disenfranchised several Zimbabweans living outside
the country and people living with disabilities while the airwaves
continue to be closed to independent broadcasters despite the adoption
of some cosmetic media reforms by the coalition government.
also noted that the government had done very little to reduce overcrowding
in prisons and improving access to adequate health services for
all inmates, though in its National Report it stated that the rights
of prisoners were protected by the country's legislation in
line with international standards.
Of concern to
the CSO's was the government's lethargic attempt to
facilitate free access to primary education to satisfy the Millennium
Development Goals and to ensure the provision of quality education.
As part of their
recommendations, the CSO's urged the government to criminalise
torture in all its national laws and policies and to consider creating
an independent civilian oversight body for the police and other
state security operatives and adopt other measures to prevent incidents
As remedy to
ensuring universal access to education and increase the country's
literacy rate which in recent years took a knock, the civil society
organisations recommended the incorporation of all social, economic
and cultural rights in the national laws and collaboration with
United Nations agencies and other stakeholders to fully implement
the Millennium Development Goals on Access to Education, Health
and other Social and Economic rights. The government should also
consider measures to improve working conditions for education and
health workers to ensure good service delivery in these sectors.
to elections, the government was implored to adopt a hybrid electoral
system, reform institutions that play a role in elections, develop
and implement an Electoral Code of Conduct that is legally enforceable
in order to promote free and fair elections and establish a permanent
independent Electoral Court to preside over all electoral matters.
the CSO's said should consider incorporating the UN Declaration
on the Human Rights Defenders in its national laws and fully implement
recommendations of the UN mechanisms to prevent unwarranted deprivation
In order to
ensure citizens' rights to a fair trial and access to justice
in the country's legal system, the CSO's urged the government
to consider creating an independent prosecuting authority according
to the UN guidelines and fully implement the right to fair trial
for all citizens.
compliance with its international obligations is scheduled to be
scrutinised by the global community of nations on Monday 10 October
2011. The government has produced its National Report which it will
present at the UPR session; local and international CSOs have submitted
several Stakeholder Reports to assist the UNHRC in assessing the
accuracy of this National Report.
Charter is a guideline for States and other stakeholders who wish
to engage the government of Zimbabwe on issues and concerns via
the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Advocacy Charter makes
recommendations which stakeholders hope the government will implement
to improve the situation of human rights in the country. Stakeholders
hope that the government in consultation with stakeholders will
seriously work on recommendations suggested to address issues raised.
The UPR is a
unique human rights mechanism of the UNHRC aimed at improving the
human rights situation on the ground in each of the UN Member States.
Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN member
States is reviewed every 4 years. At each of its meetings the Council
devotes much of its time to consideration of country reports from
the process of review in which every UN Member State has agreed
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