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Fast-tracking of various amendments through parliament
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
December 21, 2007

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) wishes to express its deep concern over the continued lack of respect for the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, and expression by holders of public office in Zimbabwe.

The recent gazetting and subsequent fast-tracking of the Public Order and Security Amendment Bill, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill by members of both Houses of Parliament evidences a worrying and flagrant lack of respect for processes allowing public input and scrutiny of legislation which affects the Zimbabwean public. This, in turn, greatly undermines the democratic space, and the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. Whilst it is noted that several amendments have been made which may, if correctly implemented, relieve a fraction of the repression against human rights defenders, the amendments are far from satisfactory and in most instances are merely cosmetic.

Further, the fact that the Bills were drafted, presented and passed without any input from stakeholders within civil society and the generality of the public reinforces the illegitimacy of the legislative process as well as the legislation itself, and strengthens the perception of broader society that the political party dialogue which led to agreements being reached on such legislation continue to be non-transparent process which deny civil society and fundamental stakeholders the opportunity to scrutinize any agreements reached, ensure that fundamental issues are properly addressed and hold the parties accountable to the affected public.

Detailed analyses of the various Bills are currently being finalized and will be made available publicly. However, it is our preliminary view that the amendments do not substantively address the concerns of those who have been most affected by the clampdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly and they fail to address fundamental concerns which have been in the public domain for as long as the legislation itself has been in operation. They also fail to take into account regional and international standards to which Zimbabwe has bound itself and which it is obliged to promote, respect, ensure and fulfill.ZLHR considers this a missed opportunity to involve all stakeholders and ensure that substantive, far-reaching and acceptable amendments were made to such insidious legislation which could have had a substantive effect on ensuring a satisfactory electoral environment in the run up to the 2008 polls and beyond.

Visit the ZLHR fact sheet

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