The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins Zimbabweans and the world in commemorating the United Nations (UN) International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, 2017.
The UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and decided to declare August 30 the International Day to be observed beginning in 2011.
On this day, ZimRights remembers the different victims of the heinous crime of enforced disappearances and their traumatised families, who yearn to know the fate and whereabouts of their relatives in Zimbabwe.
The commemoration is an opportunity to remind the government of Zimbabwe of its obligation to stop the gross human rights violation and ensure the various unresolved cases are investigated and the truth unearthed.
On December 21, 2010, the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern over the increase in the incidents of enforced or involuntary disappearances in several parts of the world.
Sadly, Zimbabwe is one of the countries, where this despicable human rights violation is a regular occurrence and impunity for perpetrators is rife.
On March 9, 2015, Zimbabweans learnt of the callous abduction of prominent pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, after several months of peacefully criticising the government and getting assaulted together with his lawyer and interrogated by the police.
It is a tragedy that, after a High Court order calling for the government to find and release Dzamara and widespread condemnation of the crime, including by the international community, he remains unaccounted for.
In addition to Itai Dzamara’s unresolved abduction, abducted political activists such as Paul Chizuze and Patrick Nabanyama have never been accounted for.
In fact, more human rights defenders, including university students, continue to be abducted, illegally detained and severely tortured by unknown elements generally suspected to be state security agents.
It is disturbing that, despite the prevalence of enforced disappearance in Zimbabwe, the government has not ratified the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, revealing authorities’ reluctance to stop the human rights violation.
The official obduracy against ratifying the Convention, includes refusal of the recommendations to that effect made at the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in November 2016.