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Statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
December 10, 2010

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) join the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day on 10 December. The day is set aside to reflect on the meaning, importance and need for human rights internationally.

This year's theme is "Human Rights Defenders Who Act to End is crimination". The theme recognizes the important work done by human rights defenders throughout the world who individually and/or collectively act in defence of the rights of others at great risk to both themselves and their families. Human rights defenders are routinely harassed, arrested and murdered for speaking out against discrimination, rights violations, repression and violence.

In Zimbabwe, human rights defenders operate in a very hostile environment with agents of the state and political activists curtailing their activities. They are often arrested, tortured, intimidated and harassed by security forces and law enforcement agencies in the exercise of their legitimate work. In addition, they are regularly viewed as agents of 'illegal" regime change. Such violations of the defenders' rights have continued despite the formation of the Government of National Unity. The Forum and ZHLR believe that the struggle to restore the dignity of mankind and the defence of human rights will ultimately prevail. We therefore call upon all human rights defenders to remain steadfast in the duties of their calling, to remain resilient in the face of challenges and to take pride in their endeavours.

The Forum and ZHLR call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to acknowledge the legitimate role of human rights defenders and implores it to guarantee the protection and security of all human rights defenders in the country. The government must put an end to the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders.

The Forum and ZHLR also urge the government to conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, particularly Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights".

Visit the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum fact sheet

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