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Public hearings on Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
July 13, 2011

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Introductory Remarks

Human rights have since WWII become a critical issue in international discourse. With the advent of globalisation it has become critical in international relations. States have an obligation to ensure that human rights are protected in their territories. Independent commissions are seen as a way of ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights. It is the State/its organs that can be accused of human rights abuses.

Human Rights in the Constitution

Members to familiarize themselves with Sections 11-26 of the Constitution:-

  • Section 11 preamble
  • Section 12 right to life
  • Section 13 right to personal liberty
  • Section 14 protection from slavery and forced labour
  • Section 15 protection from inhuman treatment
  • Section 16 protection from deprivation of property
  • Section 17 protection from arbitrary search and entry
  • Section 18 secure protection of the law
  • Section 19 freedom of conscience
  • Section 20 freedom of expression
  • Section 21 freedom of assembly and association
  • Section 22 freedom of movement
  • Section 23 freedom from discrimination on the specified grounds
  • Section 23A political rights

International Human Rights Instruments

  • The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • The International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC)
  • African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
  • The Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)
  • The Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Convention Against Torture
  • Statelessness Convention
  • Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families
  • Convention on the Rights of the Disabled

Establishment and Appointment of HRC (S100R)

  • The current Commission is a product of Constitutional Amendment 19 (Act 1/2009)
  • Consists of a chairman, qualified for at least 5years to practise as a legal practitioner and 8 others appointed from a list of nominees
  • The chairman is appointed by the President after consultation with the JSC and the SROC
  • The SROC submits a list of the nominees
  • Should recommendations of the JSC not be followed on the appointment of the chairman, the Senate shall be informed
  • Persons shall be chosen for their knowledge of and experience in the promotion of social justice or the protection of human rights & freedoms

Current Membership:

  • Prof Reg Austin (Chairperson)
  • Dr Ellen Sithole (Deputy Chairperson)
  • Joseph Kurebwa
  • Jacob Mudenda
  • Elasto Mugwadi
  • Dr Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube
  • Nomathemba Neseni
  • Dr Kwanele Jirira
  • Prof Carrol Khombe

Independent Commissions in Zimbabwe (S109)

  • They are independent & not subject to the direction/control of anyone; and
  • They must exercise their functions without fear, favour or prejudice
  • Majority decisions shall carry the day
  • The salaries of commissioners shall not be reduced during their tenure
  • An MP or member of a local authority shall be ineligible for appointment as a commissioner
  • These provisions are meant to safeguard the independence of commissions

Functions of the Commission (S100R(5))

  • To promote awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society;
  • To promote the development of human rights and freedoms;
  • To monitor and assess the observance of human rights;
  • To recommend to Parliament effective measures to promote human rights and freedoms;
  • To investigate the conduct of any authority or person in respect of any allegation of human rights violation
  • To assist in the preparation of State Party reports

Powers of the Commission (S100R(6))

  • To call for information from any person or body necessary for the preparation of State Party reports
  • To take over & continue any investigation instituted by the Public Protector where the dominant issue relates to the Commission’s functions
  • To refer to the Public Protector for investigation any matter whose dominant issue relates to the functions of the Public Protector

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