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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.
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