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  • Inclusion and the right to participate in public life: Statement on International Human Rights Day
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    December 10, 2012

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition joins the World in commemorating International Human Rights Day, a day to mark the presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. On this day, Crisis Coalition recognize the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable, just and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims.

    As the rest of the Wold celebrate the day, Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe are under constant threat ranging from harassment, intimidation and arrests. It is saddening and puts human rights situation into context, to note that as the World celebrates Human Rights, human rights activists Rebecca Mafukeni, Yvonne Musarurwa, Tungamirai Madzokere, Lazarus and Stanford Maengahama, Phineas Nhatarikwa and Stanford Mangwiro and 19 others who may endure the possibility of spending the festive season in prison. These political detainees join a long list from 2011 alone of Human Rights Defenders who have been subjected to long incarceration on unfound grounds of their work.

    Respect for human rights remains a fundamental cornerstone in pursuit for sustainable peace, justice and good governance. Crisis Coalition joins the rest of the World in celebrating 64 years of this commitment, however there is little to celebrate about. Instead of celebrating to participate in public life as this year's theme suggests, the Coalition laments the dire Human Rights situation, and salutes the brave work of Human Rights Defenders, which they often have to do at great personal risk. The government on several occasions have expressed dissatisfaction wit the operations and activities of NGOs and threatened to ban their operations. Those that have been specifically targeted and mentioned by name include Counselling Services Unit whose staff members were recently arrested and charged with causing malicious damage to property, in contravening of Section 140 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) and whose offices were raided, Zimbabwe Human Right NGO Forum, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Crisis Coalition, ZimRights, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Election Resource Centre (ERC), and Bulawayo Agenda.

    The clamp down on civil society organisations (CSOs) is a culmination of the apparent intention of the government to control the activities of CSOs as part of the overall strategy to limit the democratic space and increase totalitarianism. The government is creating a basis and justification for the clamp down on CSOs and the arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders.

    The Coalition to this end calls for:

    • An immediate end to the continued persecution and arrests of human rights defenders across the country by State security agents.
    • To improve the operational environment for human rights defenders and acknowledge their rights as enshrined in the UN Declaration of HRDs.
    • Amend or repeal repressive legislation which is incompatible with international human rights law and standards including the International Covenant on Civil and Political and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.
    • Guarantee, at all times, in law and in practice, the freedoms of opinion and expression as well as the right to peaceful assembly.
    • Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.
    • Restoration of a professional police service to ensure that it maintains law and order in full compliance with the Constitution and in total depoliticised way, and is accountable to the law.

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