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holds Inclusive Government responsible for blitz on CSOs
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
February 21, 2013
for Human Rights (ZLHR) has been and continues to monitor developments
relating to the clampdown on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
and human rights defenders (HRDs) with increasing concern.
of the trends indicates a sustained and escalating assault on NGOs
involved in civic education, human rights monitoring, public outreach
and service provision - all of which are lawful activities
and noble endeavours. Methods of attack include character assassination
through the partisan and state-controlled media, disruption of lawful
activities and meetings, violent disruption of peaceful protests,
and invasion of organisational premises through the use of vague
and generalised search warrants as well as suspicious break-ins
and theft. All such cases in which ZLHR has provided legal support
services have been targeted at organisations that are lawfully operating
international norms and standards, to which Zimbabwe has bound itself
through the African Union and the United Nations, clearly protect
the rights of HRDs to associate, organise and carry out peaceful
activities, and the right of human rights organisations to exist
and be protected by law. Such rights are further enshrined in the
Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe.
have, nevertheless, continued to provide their essential services
despite the difficult and often life-threatening circumstances.
This they do because the government has limited and sometimes no
capacity to respect and fulfill even its most basic obligations
to citizens. There has been a resounding silence by the politicians
who appear to be more preoccupied with their electoral campaigns
and power retention at the expense of undertakings laid out clearly
in the Global
Political Agreement - undertakings which continue to be broken,
discarded and arrogantly ignored.
for the current crackdown lies squarely and fully on the three political
parties that form the inclusive government. They have been either
powerless to stop the attacks, directly or indirectly involved in
the coordination and implementation of the attacks, or simply unconcerned
with the challenges faced by those outside their ivory towers. Should
further harm befall those within the civic sector as a result of
such ongoing and future attacks, it is these three political parties
that we will hold responsible.
ZLHR calls for
sanity to prevail, a reduction of the hysteria and paranoia currently
characterising the state and its institutions and actors, an immediate
cessation of the attacks against NGOs and HRDs, and an opening of
the space to allow for the civil society to continue with their
critical activities. Failure of this inclusive government to come
to its senses will paint - and is already painting -
a negative picture of the pre-election environment, and will be
recorded accordingly for those in the region and further afield
to take note.
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