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Protocol and African Charter on Democracy, Elections & Governance
- Bill Watch 27/2012
June 16, 2012
Houses of Parliament will meet again on Tuesday 19th June
agenda for this week includes motions to approve two important international
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children
of Home Affairs Theresa Makoni has put on the agenda of both Houses
a motion seeking approval of Zimbabwe’s accession to the United
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children. It is a Protocol to the
UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime. This convention
and its supplementary Protocols [the others deal with Smuggling
of Migrants and Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms]
were opened for signature by UN member states in December 2000 in
came into force on 25th December 2003 after ratification, acceptance,
approval or accession by forty countries. The current position is
that 149 countries have become States parties. 39 of 54 African
countries are States parties, including 12 of the 15 SADC countries.
All our bordering countries – South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia,
Namibia and Botswana – are States parties. The only SADC countries
that are not States parties are Zimbabwe, Angola and Swaziland.
As cross-border trafficking is taking place in the region, having
Zimbabwe as a non-party has hampered regional efforts to stop trafficking.
Because Zimbabwe did not sign the protocol when it was open for
signature, the procedure for becoming a State party is by accession.
This will be achieved by lodging an instrument of accession, signed
by the President, with the UN Secretary-General after the Protocol
has been approved by Parliament.
region does have a problem of trafficking across borders, it is
also important to note that the definition of trafficking includes
enforced or coerced exploitation of persons for purposes of prostitution
or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour and similar
practices even if it takes place within a country, a town, a rural
area, a community or even a family. Until mechanisms are in place
for data collection it is difficult to assess the problem, either
cross-border or within the country, but it is thought that, in the
present economic conditions and the concomitant movements of people,
it is extensive.
is to be congratulated on responding to lobbying for this Protocol
to be acceded to. Accession will lay an obligation on the country,
among other duties, to:
- ensure that
suitable legislation is put in place to prevent and punish trafficking
across borders with other States parties.
It is hoped
that Parliamentarians will support the Minister’s motion and
follow this up by making a concerted effort to see that the necessary
legislation is put in place and other mechanisms set up, so that
these obligations are met quickly. When opening the present session
in September 2011, President Mugabe said that Parliament would be
asked to approve Zimbabwe’s accession and that Government
intended to “domesticate” the Protocol by presenting
a Bill to incorporate its provisions into Zimbabwean law. But to
effectively combat trafficking in persons sufficient budgetary provision
must also be made.
Too often International
Instruments are signed and ratified or acceded to without the necessary
follow-up being done. Perhaps the Senate’s Human Rights Thematic
Committee and the House of Assembly’s Portfolio Committees
on Women, Youth, Gender And Community Development and Health and
Child Welfare could take it on themselves to monitor, once Zimbabwe
has acceded to the Protocol, that the Government follows through
by ensuring legislation is passed and budget allocations are made
to fulfil obligations under the Protocol.
of the duties of States parties, and for key provisions considered
necessary in an anti-trafficking Act, Parliamentarians are referred
to the Parliamentary Briefing Paper produced by Veritas’ Director
and printed by Frederick Ebert Stiftung [FES] which was distributed
to all Parliamentarians in March last year. The Palermo Protocol
is available on the UN website or from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
In the Senate
last week, MDC-T Senator Marava introduced a motion expressing dismay
that Zimbabwe has still not signed and ratified the African Charter
on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which was adopted by the
AU in Addis Ababa on 30th January 2007, and calling on the Government
to expeditiously sign and ratify the Charter. The Charter came into
force for States parties on 15th February this year, when the necessary
numbers of States had ratified or acceded to it.
Debate on the
motion was adjourned to enable senators to read the Charter, which
Parliament undertook to provide them with.
In the House,
a motion on the agenda, to be introduced by Hon Chitando [MDC-T]
and Hon Rutsvara [MDC-T], notes there has been peaceful transition
in some African countries, but contrasts this with violent transition
in others, and goes on to cite the context of Zimbabwe holding elections
within a year and states that “violent manifestations are
already emerging” and that there is “a need to ensure
a peaceful post-election transition in Zimbabwe”. Finally,
the motion calls on the Government to put in place the necessary
mechanisms for peaceful transition and urges SADC and AU to ensure
that member states subscribe to the ethos of the African Charter
on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
recognises the link between democracy, elections and good governance
and establishes a code of international law with respect to issues
of democracy, human rights and conduct of transparent, free and
fair lections. Throughout, it emphasises the rule of law and constitutionalism.
About elections it obligates States parties, among other things,
- an independent
and impartial national electoral commission
- fair and
equitable access to State-controlled media by contestants
- a binding
code of ethics for contestants
- an AU exploratory
mission prior to elections to ensure necessary conditions and
a conducive environment for transparent, free and fair elections
- free access
to information and movement for AU observers during elections.
also lays down obligations for an independent judiciary, strengthening
civilian control of armed forces, conducive conditions for civil
society, and legislative and policy frameworks to establish and
strengthen a culture of democracy and peace.
the Charter is in accordance with principles being professed by
all political parties. On elections, it is in harmony with the SADC
Election Guidelines. It is hoped that members of both Houses,
whichever party they support, will pass these motions for accession
to the Charter and prove their party principles are more than just
- formulated by African states - would also form a good background
against which to read the draft of the new constitution. It is available
on the AU website or from email@example.com.
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