Respect human rights, Mugabe told

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his new government should take concrete steps to fulfil the country’s human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch has warned.

In a letter sent to Mugabe yesterday, the New York-based organisation identified key human rights priorities, including the need to reaffirm the rights provisions in the new Constitution, ensure justice and accountability for past abuses, uphold activists’ rights to organise and operate freely without government harassment, and strengthen the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. 

Mugabe, who was sworn in on August 22 following disputed elections in which his Zanu PF party garnered more than two-thirds of the vote, is expected to announce his new administration anytime from now.

In the wide ranging letter, Daniel Bekele, HRW executive director-Africa division called for the amendment and repeal of repressive laws as well as strict political neutrality in the security sector in discharging of duties.

An earlier report ahead of polls said the country’s military and other security forces had
interfered in political and electoral affairs in support of Mugabe and had prevented Zimbabweans from exercising their rights to free expression and association.

“Human Rights Watch urges the new administration to immediately amend or substantially repeal a number of laws to bring them in line with the provisions of the new Constitution,” says the letter.

“For instance, article 208 of the new Constitution states that members of the security services — the Defence Forces, the Police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, and the Prison Service — must be non-partisan.”

The rights group called for redress of serious human rights abuses, including 2008 poll atrocities, and called on the new administration to promptly investigate and “prosecute members of the security forces against whom there is evidence of criminal responsibility for serious human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment,” Bekele said.

HRW called for the strengthening the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission by capacitating the rights body which was established at the formation of the coalition government but does not have technical staff to date.

Bekele urged Mugabe’s administration to among other things uphold civil society rights by revoking a Zanu PF December 2012 conference resolution where the party pledged “to ensure that government enforces deregistration of errant organisations, deviating from their mandate.”

HRW also said it was their hope that the new administration would protect media freedoms and encourage rather than prohibit freedom of the press.

This correspondence comes at a time when Mugabe is expected to announce members of his Cabinet soon following the swearing in of parliamentarians on Tuesday.

The newly-appointed Cabinet will have the herculean task of steering economic revival.

Following the announcement of Mugabe’s re-election last month, the economy took a nose dive, with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) losing close to $1 billion in one week.

According to the new Constitution, the president appoints ministers and deputy ministers from among Senators and Members of the National Assembly.

Section 104 (3) however states that, he can appoint up to five members who are chosen for their professional skills and competence.

The president must however take into account factors such as gender equity in his appointment.
Human Rights Watch urged Mugabe and his administration to take the following steps:

• Reaffirm the rights provisions in the new constitution, immediately amend or repeal laws as necessary to bring them in line with the new constitution, and ensure that government officials respect and protect these rights. 

• Ensure accountability for past human rights abuses

Investigate cases of serious abuses, including during the 2008 elections, and prosecute those responsible in accordance with international standards.

Those prosecuted should include members of the security forces implicated in killings, arbitrary detention, and torture and other ill-treatment. 

Provide appropriate redress to victims of government abuses.

• Uphold rights of interested Zimbabweans and human rights defenders to organise and work in civic affairs.

Send a clear public message to the people that the new administration will honour its human rights obligations and not interfere with the rights of non-governmental organisations to freely operate across the country and without fear of harassment, intimidation or arbitrary arrests.

• Protect Media Freedom

Carry out policies that encourage, not weaken, freedom of the press.

Ensure that the rights to freedom of association and assembly are fully realised, and promote free expression and communication.

Amend or repeal repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Order and Security Act, and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

HRW said the Government of Zimbabwe has important legal obligations under African and international human rights treaties that require it to respect the rights to life, bodily integrity, and liberty and security of the person, as well as freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, HRW said.

“President Mugabe should publicly express his personal commitment to meeting Zimbabwe’s human rights obligations,” said Tiseke Kasambala, the Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 

“He should take responsibility for ensuring that rights are protected and that his officials uphold the law. The new administration needs to embrace a new, positive rights-respecting approach to governing.”

Comments (14)

Who is this Daniel Bekele? What is he trying to teach us on things we put in our constitution? Which human rights is he talking about in Zimbabwe instead of telling his masters to lift their sanctions which are more human rights violation? Sanctions have caused a lot of untold sufferings to this nation and these so-called human rights organisations have remained very silent about it why if they have the interests of zimbabweans at heart? There are no rights more than what we are having now. I know for sure that the rights being talked about by this monster are in reference to political activities that brings this nation to the ground. I know all these utterances are a show of pain being endured due to thorough beating of their puppet party mdct. Now listen bekele we dont need your dictatorial laws here. We dont even want your input into our constitution. Our President respects human rights more than your masters who have been killing round the world, and are now eyeing to kill more in syria. Go and hang yourself bekele we dont need you and your organisation here. Remove the word Zimbabwe and put America or Britain.

Takeiteasy Marcaves - 5 September 2013

this is totally rubbish and full of lies . western pigs crying in agony, they spent most of thier monies feeding their puppet tsvangirayi and finally he lost dismally. now they are shouting in hell!!!!!

jojo - 5 September 2013

zim people lack cultural integrity in the way they comment. where is the spirit of Uhuruism.

RAY MAKONDO - 5 September 2013

Takeiteasy marcaves and jojo, your opinions are warped, uninformed!! You appear to be poorly endowed with frontal cortices, deficient in sulci and gyri!!! As such you have lost the capacity to cerebrate!!!!

george - 5 September 2013

Takeiteasy marcaves and jojo, your opinions are warped, uninformed!! You appear to be poorly endowed with frontal cortices, deficient in sulci and gyri!!! As such you have lost the capacity to cerebrate!!!!

george - 5 September 2013

Some people are just fun.They think they can live without the international community.That is wrong because by that we will be showing that we belong to dictators.This is a global village and we cannot afford to live isolated.If there is nothing to hide why not just fulfill the demands of our constitution?

chimwango - 5 September 2013

Bwahahaha, Human rights warned? Ndokutii ikoko? Since when does Bob listen to these fly by night organisations?Give up already.

Abel - 5 September 2013

HRW emphasised the correction of past human rights record. thanks for this point. Let the British first honour Zimbabweans they butchered since 1890 to the present through colonialism, disspossession of the means of production the land, slavery, sanctions, ESAP, Wiiling-buyer willing-seller, racism, remove their spies; HRW, NGOs.

Archie - 5 September 2013

Who are these jokers anyway?

Boss - 5 September 2013

Chokwadi tinengetichirikure kwazvo kuti tisvike.Chashata chataurwa apa ndechipi?Zvakaipei kuteedzera bumbiro remitemo isu tiriisu tazvinyora?Tirikuti tinodazvipi kuteera zvatanyora mumitemo kana kutsaudzira?Tashoorei chaizvoizvo?

nathaniel - 6 September 2013

Nathaniel you are right we must follow what we put into our constitution. But the reason why I wrote that comment above is for someone who is feeding from our enemy's pocket to tell us to honour what we have said ourselves without any pressure. AS for george I dont mind you calling me names or insult me. The bottom line is our President signed these treaties before even that fool bekele was in that commission. He is not the one who lectured us to be in it. So he must just keep quiet and if there is a country where he lectured them to sign the same thats where he should go and preach his nonsense. After all america is planning to kill the syrians why cant he lecture to them about human rights. Go hang bekele we dont need your advice here.

Takeiteasy Marcaves - 6 September 2013

Nathaniel you are right we must follow what we put into our constitution. But the reason why I wrote that comment above is for someone who is feeding from our enemy's pocket to tell us to honour what we have said ourselves without any pressure. AS for george I dont mind you calling me names or insult me. The bottom line is our President signed these treaties before even that fool bekele was in that commission. He is not the one who lectured us to be in it. So he must just keep quiet and if there is a country where he lectured them to sign the same thats where he should go and preach his nonsense. After all america is planning to kill the syrians why cant he lecture to them about human rights. Go hang bekele we dont need your advice here.

Takeiteasy Marcaves - 6 September 2013

what human rights can these guys tell us? as if Zim has a record of not respecting human rights! go and respect human rights in Syria then yu can come and utter your rubbish

bongs - 6 September 2013

Uku kuudza uya asinganzwi vamutakura gotsi we-e! Ididimukwa mbune harahwa isingarohwe nehana!!!

TaTanga - 7 September 2013

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.