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  • Arbitrary arrest of activists meeting over the constitution making process
    Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR)
    February 04, 2010

    ROHR Zimbabwe is greatly dismayed by the uncomplimentary behavior that is being shown by the state through its law enforcement arm, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in denying the general public the right to assemble and associate freely over the envisaged constitution consultation outreach program. It is highly concerning that more than 70 political and human rights activist from WOZA and the MDC have so far been arbitrarily arrested over what the police is alleging "unsanctioned meetings".

    As a human rights organization, we note with grave concern that the continued existence of prohibitive legislation like POSA and AIPPA is an anathema to the much needed conducive environment in which the citizenry can assembly, associate and expressly freely towards the writing of a constitution that will reflect the aspirations of the people.

    The recent arbitrary arrests by the police are not only a clear disregard to the interpretation of the law but tantamount to derailing the constitutional outreach program by sending alarm signals among the citizenry on its role in the process.

    We further challenge the ZRP to act professionally in executing its duties in line with the international human rights standards (Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR, African Charter on Peoples' Rights and Freedoms ACPR) in dealing with the citizenry during the duration of the constitutional outreach program.

    Cognizant of the fact that the continued existence of draconian laws like POSA and AIPPA will only yield a flawed constitutional outreach program, it is pertinent that the coalition government considers legal reforms that will promote a more enabling environment to encourage the free participation and security of participants without fear of intimidation, persecution or victimization ahead of the constitutional outreach program set to begin soon.

    Given the long documented legacy of the abuse of state machinery by the ZANU Pf party in relentless efforts to harass political and human rights activist, we strongly urge the other partners to the coalition government to take a principled position to ensure that the ZRP will not be complicity in ZANU Pf's agenda to coerce the citizenry to adopt the undemocratic Kariba Draft constitution which gives too much executive powers to a president with unlimited term of office among other short serious comings.

    Understanding that the constitution making process is an opportune moment for Zimbabweans to define their God given, social, economic, civil and political rights into a supreme law that will guide elected leaders with the responsibility to rule and govern the country, it is critical to ensure that the voice of the people is not lost or swayed to suit narrow egocentric partisan agendas.

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