As the world commemorates the United Nations International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) urges the government to ratify and domesticate the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Observed each year on 30 August, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is a crucial day to honour those who have been forcibly disappeared and raise awareness that enforced disappearance is a crime.
In Zimbabwe, the practice of enforced disappearances has not been criminalised. A number of incidents have been documented. Several people have been abducted and subjected to enforced disappearances including pro-democracy campaigner Itai Dzamara, who remains missing more than two years after he was abducted on 09 March 2015.
ZLHR remains worried that the culture of disappearances and impunity has not been addressed and persists to date.
All state and non-state actors who have been implicated in masterminding abduction of people and subjecting them to enforced disappearances must be held accountable.
It is worrying that in March 2017 the government refused to accept the recommendation calling on state actors to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. This recommendation was made by some United Nations member states during the adoption of the final outcome report of Zimbabwe’s Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
ZLHR restates that abductions and enforced disappearances are a heinous violation of human rights and an international crime, and urges the government to:
- Thoroughly investigate all cases of enforced disappearances and bring all those who perpetrate violations against human rights defenders to account.
- Provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been abducted and disappeared.
- Ratify and domesticate the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
- Criminalise with high penalties and prosecute all cases of enforced disappearances.
- Align domestic laws with regional and international human rights instruments and harmonise laws with the Constitution.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights