ZLHR condemns unbecoming conduct of some members of Zimbabwe Defence Forces

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights strongly condemns the unbecoming behaviour of some members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) who went berserk on Tuesday 01 August 2017 in Harare and brutally assaulted some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and some innocent civilians.

Some uniformed ZDF members indiscriminately assaulted some uniformed ZRP officers in central Harare after some police officers had used spikes to deflate the vehicle tyres of an army officer.

This incident was confirmed by media reports published on Thursday 3 August 2017. A joint press statement issued on Friday 04 August 2017 by the ZRP and the ZDF also condemned the “incident” advising that “appropriate action will be taken against the perpetrators.”

While the ZDF members may have felt aggrieved by the ZRP’s action, the soldiers’ conduct does not justify their brutal response and doesn’t entitle them to take the law into their hands and violating the fundamental rights of fellow citizens.

This illegitimate conduct of these soldiers is a serious threat to national security since the ZRP and the ZDF are two arms of the security services tasked with safeguarding the safety and security of citizens from internal and external threats, and or attacks. The ZRP has a constitutional mandate to maintain law and order, as well as protecting and securing the lives and property of people among other duties. The ZDF has the ultimate role to protect Zimbabwe, its people, national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold the Constitution.

Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights hereby reminds members of the ZDF that;
– Just like any other citizen, or person in Zimbabwe they are all subject to the authority of the Constitution.
– The role of the ZDF as outlined in section 212 of the Constitution is to protect Zimbabwe, its people and uphold the supreme law.
– The soldiers’ conduct and actions violated section 208 of the Constitution, which calls on members of the security services to exercise their functions in a way that does not violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.
– The soldiers conduct also violated section 211(3)-(4) of the Constitution which provides that the Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established in the Constitution and must be maintained as disciplined military forces.
– The Constitution – the supreme law of the country and criminal laws outlaw resorting to instant justice without having recourse to courts of law.
– Section 10 of the same Constitution binds the State and every person (including all members of the ZDF) to promote national unity, peace and stability while Section 52 of the Constitution assures every citizen of the right to personal security which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources.
– Sections 36, 37 and 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act outlaw public violence, promotion of public violence and breaches of peace and assault in all manifestations.

ZLHR believes that the country’s criminal justice system, institutions and agencies have the capacity to deter the occurrence of retributive justice or punish those who engage in it.

ZLHR also wishes to restate its displeasure at the random administration of tyre deflating devices “Spikes” by ZRP. This violates section 52 of the Constitution as it is a threat to personal security and could lead to further violations.

As an organisation which seeks to foster a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe, ZLHR calls for:
– All members of the ZDF to conduct themselves with utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms;
– All members of the ZDF to uphold the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution and the rule of law.
– Those ZDF members involved in the assault of ZRP officers must be appropriately disciplined or prosecuted, regardless of rank and be held to account to prevent recurrence.
– The need to inculcate human rights education into ZDF training curricula.
– The Defence Forces Service Commission to promptly act and impartially investigate the incident as set out in section 218 of the Constitution.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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