Rights lawyers, State body in landmark pact

HARARE - Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has formalised a pact with a State human rights commission to nurture the protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights in Zimbabwe.

The landmark deal would see ZLHR and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission(ZHRC) working together to take steps to prevent a repeat of the 2008 political violence in which some 200 of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed.

The two institutions cemented the cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a ceremony convened at the ZHRC head office in Harare last weekend.

The ZHRC is the first State body tasked with investigating cases of rights abuses.

ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi and ZLHR executive director Irene Petras appended their signatures on the milestone agreement on behalf of the two institutions.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by ZHRC deputy chairperson Ellen Sithole, commissioners Joseph Kurebwa, Kwanele Muriel Jirira, Carroll Themba Khombe,
Sheila Hilary Matindike, acting executive secretary Erick Mukutiri and Kurai Makumbe, the chief human rights officer —complaints handling and investigations and ZLHR programmes manager Dzimbabwe Chimbga and communications
officer Kumbirai Mafunda.

Mugwadi lauded the signing of the pact as significant in cementing the institution’s relationship with ZLHR.

“We will continue to collaborate with ZLHR. They have been in the field for so many years before us. We are an institution with a huge mandate but we can’t be everywhere in the country because of the current constraints the country is facing. We are one family in the business of human rights,” he said.

Petras expressed ZLHR’s appreciation of the work that the national human rights institution is doing and pledged to cement the cooperation with ZHRC in fostering a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe.

“This marks another milestone in our relationship with ZHRC. We have been there to see the baby (ZHRC) grow and start its first steps. ZHRC is a bridge between the State, civic society and the citizens. The MoU is a way of breathing life to the Constitution. We respect ZHRC’s role as a constitutional body and we will support the common goals of the ZHRC,” he said.

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