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Statement on the overall human rights situation in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
April 25, 2013

Honorable Chairperson, 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 Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) on behalf of other civil society organisations in Zimbabwe welcomes the Government of Zimbabwe’s Organ on National Healing, Truth and Reconciliation’s move to establish a Code of Conduct for political parties that seeks to hold political parties accountable for any violence or intimidation perpetrated by their supporters. However, CSOs in Zimbabwe remain deeply concerned about the continued existence of the infrastructure of violence despite the endorsement of the Code of Conduct by the political parties.

The Forum also notes the progress made by the government during the intercession towards advancing socio-economic rights by scrapping medical fees for expectant and new mothers at rural clinics in a bid to reduce the country's high maternal mortality rate. Other beneficiaries of the scrapping of the fees are children under five years as well as adults aged over 65 years.

Honorable Chairperson, the Forum however, is seriously concerned by the continued human rights violations in the country. During the intercession, there was an upsurge of attacks on legally established civil society organizations by state authorities. Organisations that have been operating for years, like Counseling Services Unit, Zimbabwe Peace Project, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, have been subjected to arbitrary raids and searches by police and some of the officers were arrested and charged with frivolous charges. WOZA has continued to be harassed despite a Supreme Court ruling protecting their right to freedom of assembly and expression.

There has been a blatant infringement on the right to access to information as evidenced by the banning and confiscation of shortwave radios by the police. The independent commissions in the country are not operating as they should, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is not yet operational, the Anti-Corruption Commission is being prevented from carrying out their work with two of the Commissioners having been arrested. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission refused to accredit CSOs to observe the referendum because of their pending criminal investigations. Access to justice is being stifled as evidenced by the arrest of human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa while carrying out her statutorily mandated duties to provide legal assistance to accused persons. This is further aggravated by the government’s refusal to comply with decisions of its own courts particularly when it applies to the protection of fundamental rights.

Therefore the Forum, on behalf of CSOs in Zimbabwe calls upon the Commission to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to honor her obligations under the African charter by:

1. Respecting the rule of law;
2. Promoting and protecting the rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Charter particularly freedoms of expression and association through ensuring unrestricted operating space for civil society.
3. Putting an immediate end to the on-going harassment, persecution and intimidation of human Rights Defenders.
4. Request a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe before the general elections to investigate, verify and make recommendations on human rights violations.

Visit the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum fact sheet

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