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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Monitoring the pre-election human rights environment
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    May 21, 2013

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    As political temperatures shoot up ahead of the proposed harmonised polls expected sometime this year, the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) will provide regular updates on the media’s coverage of the human rights environment in the country.

    This is the first instalment.

    The reports are aimed at assessing the role of the media in infusing transparency and accountability in the administration of the election to ensure that these are held in free and fair conditions. As essential part of the election process, it is imperative for the media to play their watchdog role and insist on violence free elections that conform to basic democratic tenets.

    What are human rights?

    Human rights are complex and difficult to define. This is because they are interdependent and indivisible.

    However, they are generally classified as the rights guaranteed to all people irrespective of race, creed, colour, gender or national origin. The free encyclopaedia, Wikepedia, presents human rights as “inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being".

    Human rights are thus conceived as universal and the same for everyone. These include basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, which are often given as the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10 1948 in Paris, champions the doctrine of human rights in the world. It was a direct consequence of the atrocities of the Second World War and represented “the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled”, according to Wikepedia.

    The UDHR comprises 30 rights to which all people are entitled. These have largely been split and categorized into civil and political rights; and economic, social and cultural rights.

    Civil and political rights are enshrined in articles 3 to 21 of the UDHR and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Economic, social and cultural rights are protected in articles 22 to 28 of the UDHR and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    The UDHR framework on human rights has since become the cornerstone of public policy in the world as reflected in global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and the activities of NGOs.

    This is also reflected in Zimbabwe’s proposed new constitution (Chapter four), which is wholly dedicated to the declaration on human rights. The section encompasses and dwells at length on both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

    This report is therefore guided by international, regional and local practice on human rights issues in its tabulation of rights violations carried in the media.

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