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Statement on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe
Rights NGO Forum
October 24, 2011
Commissioners, the Secretary of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples' Rights; heads of Government delegations, civil
society representatives, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
the economic environment continues to improve under the Government
of National Unity consummated in February 2009, following the
September 2008 signing of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) by the three political parties, which
are parties to the GPA. However many of the conditions agreed to
by the principals remain unresolved. Political violence remains
a cause for grave concern as the government continues to violate
the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter.
During the intersession, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has
recorded 191 cases of political violence whilst its member organisation
Peace Project recorded 3 588 cases of politically motivated
human rights and food related violations from May to August 2011.
These violations have been perpetrated mainly though not exclusively
by state agents and their ancillaries, party cadres and youth militia.
The situation of human rights defenders has not improved. They continue
to be harassed during the course of carrying out their legitimate
work. Political party activists or members of the security services
have disrupted outreach programmes by several civic society organisations
with the acquiescence or collaboration of the state. For example,
Zimbabwean civic society activists were harassed in Namibia at the
Southern African Development Community summit at the behest of the
Zimbabwean authorities, following an attempt to deliver a petition
to SADC leaders calling on them to lay out pre-conditions for democratic
elections in Zimbabwe.
face safety and security risks. Journalists have been assaulted,
sometimes at high security public events in the presence of police
officers. In September, at the Parliament Building, Harare, at the
public hearing of the Human Rights Commission Bill, political party
journalists covering the event.
There is selective
application of the law by the police. Illustration of this is the
arrest and subsequent detention
of 10 civil society activists on 27 July 2011 at the High Court
of Zimbabwe in Harare. The 10, all members of the Restoration
of Human Rights-Zimbabwe, were arrested while protesting against
the continued detention of the Glenview residents who had been arrested
and detained for allegedly murdering a police officer. In a similar
incident on 23 July 2011, the police failed to take any action against
ZANU-PF supporters who besieged
Parliament building and disrupted the public hearings for the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission Bill.
we have noted that the past 2 years have witnessed a reduction in
cases of overt political violence compared with 2008. For this reduction,
we acknowledge the role of the inclusive government; the role of
the regional and international community in reigning in the excesses
of the Government of Zimbabwe and the efforts of Zimbabweans themselves
in containing this violence. Despite this political violence however
remains, and has been exacerbated by the expectation of elections
in 2012. Law enforcement agencies still perpetrate political violence
and collaborate with violent political party activists. A trend
has developed in Zimbabwe where violence peaks during election periods
making it problematic for the holding of free and fair elections.
We fear that any elections before key electoral and political reforms
will result in increased political violence.
whilst we welcome the swearing in of Commissioners for the Human
Rights Commission, the Media Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission
and the Electoral Commission, it is sad to note that none of these
is fully operational. There are indications in the existing Human
Rights Commission Bill that it will not fully comply with the Paris
Principles, that it will be subject to government intervention and
will only address post 2009 atrocities thus ignoring one of the
worst eras of political
violence in Zimbabwe (the pre and post 2008 harmonised elections).
We also welcome
government's engagement with civil society organisations during
preparations for the UN Periodic Review. However, it is disturbing
to note that out of a total of 179 recommendations
made by the UN Human Rights Council at its Universal Periodic Review
of Zimbabwe the Government of Zimbabwe accepted 81, rejected 67
and said it would consider 31 recommendations.
of economic and cultural rights is largely constrained by lack of
finance. These include adequate living standards, social security,
health, education, employment and housing. The Government of Zimbabwe
has established special funds for women, youth and indigenization
enterprises but has failed to provide adequate housing for the victims
of the 2005 Operation
Murambatsvina in compliance with the recommendations of the
UN special Envoy of the Secretary General for Human Settlement
We call upon
the African Commission to put effective measures under its protective
mandate and to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to:
1. Put in place
legislative provisions to ensure that the operation of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission complies with the Paris
2. Speed up key electoral reforms in order to create a conducive
environment for free and fair elections.
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Human Rights NGO Forum fact
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