Italian delegation on human rights mission

HARARE - A delegation of Italian members of parliament visited Zimbabwe recently on a human rights mission.

The delegation, made up of members from the Non-Violent Radical Party who are also members of the NGO Hands off Cain, met with several politicians and parliamentary committees from the three political parties in Zimbabwe’s inclusive government.

During their three-day visit to Zimbabwe they met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, Edna Madzongwe, President of the Senate, Lovemore Moyo, Speaker of  the House of Assembly, Thokozani Khupe, Deputy Prime Minister and Eric Matinenga, the minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.

The delegation was on an advocacy mission to urge Zimbabwe to change its position on capital punishment ahead of the United Nations motion calling for a moratorium of the death penalty set for December this year.

Zimbabwe has in the past voted against this resolution and this initiative that was sponsored by the Italian ministry of foreign affairs was meant to create a platform for changing the negative vote into a positive one.

The country has not carried out any capital execution since 2003, pointing to a de facto moratorium of the penalty in the country.

The Italian human rights activists also met with the Copac co-chairpersons as well as the parliamentary portfolio committees on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs Regional Integration and International Trade, and the Copac Thematic Committee on Human Rights.

Commenting on their visit to Zimbabwe, head of delegation Elisabetta Zamparutti, said: “We will take home a different impression of Zimbabwe. In contrast to the information we had before coming here, the political scene is lively and members of parliament that we met support the promotion of human rights.
 “Free and fair elections after the referendum will prove that the inclusive government in Zimbabwe has worked as indicated by enhanced civil participation in democratic reforms.”

In addition, as Zimbabwe moves towards a new constitution, the delegation took the opportunity to provide input into the process; calling for considering a removal of capital punishment from the document.
The draft constitution so far has excluded women, children and the over 60 from facing the death penalty.

“Our meetings with stakeholders were very encouraging as an overwhelming majority of the people that we spoke to were against the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

As the country gains ground on its drive for inclusion into the international community, we hope that it will adhere to the international human rights instruments that are gaining universal acceptance the world over,” said delegation member Senator Marco Perduca in an interview during the visit.

Hands off Cain and Non-Violent Radical Party are organisations affiliated to the United Nations.
They have contributed to the promotion of democracy, human rights and the initiative for the abolition of capital punishment in countries across the world.

In Africa, the organisations have made contributions to the constitutional processes in DRC, Ghana and Burundi.

Since the 1990s the death penalty has increasingly been recognised as a human rights issue falling within the international legal framework.

The visit by the Italian delegation is central to the alignment of the Zimbabwean situation to the international human rights legal instruments.    

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