Govt urged to uphold human rights

HARARE - A human rights monitor group, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), has urged the government to demonstrate its political will in the defence and promotion of citizens’ rights, arguing that civil liberties remain under threat in Zimbabwe.

In a statement to commemorate the International Human Rights Day held on Thursday, ZPP, which is a consortium of churches and Non-Governmental Organisations, said freedoms of expression, association and demonstration are constantly being violated despite Zimbabwe being a signatory to conventions that protect these rights.

“Freedom of assembly and association, freedom to demonstrate, freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination, as in the cases of people being beaten up for preferring certain political candidates, and in the situation where people from parties other than Zanu PF are denied food assistance and relief, property rights and the right to personal liberty­ — all these rights among others — continue to be violated,” ZPP said.

To prove the country’s low human rights levels, this year’s human rights commemorations coincided with the demolition of more than 200 homes in Harare’s Aspindale area by the Harare City Council.

ZPP also noted that 2015 was characterised by a gross deterioration of socio-economic rights such as harassment of vendors and demolition of houses.

It further stated that for nine months now, the whereabouts of journalist-cum-activist, Itai Dzamara, who was abducted by suspected State agents in March, are still unknown.

The human rights group said Zimbabwe, by refusing to uphold a United Nations’ resolution that condemns violence against intimidation of human rights defenders shows an unwillingness to uphold people’s rights.

“The opposing stance by the government of Zimbabwe is not consistent with the country’s Constitution, which provides in chapter 4 under the section on Declaration of Rights for the protection and promotion of human rights.

“This opposition of the resolution, like many other developments in our country since the adoption of the new charter in May of 2013, brings into question government’s commitment to the implementation in its entirety of the Constitution,” the organisation said.

However, speaking at a round table meeting organised by the United

Nations to deliberate on human rights issues this week, Charles Manhire, a chief legal officer in the Justice ministry, said government was committed to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations and ensuring a peaceful and safe environment for its citizens.

He said it was anticipated that the successful alignment of legislation would strengthen the legal frameworks that are available for the protection and promotion of human rights.

“Stakeholders should also take part in the process which everyone appreciates takes a very long time.

“The alignment of laws is not only for government but for everyone,” he said.

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