Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) call on Zimbabwean authorities to take concrete action to prevent future incidents of enforced disappearances, make all perpetrators accountable, compensate and provide all necessary support to survivors and victims of enforced disappearances.
Commemorated on 30 August every year, the United Nations (UN) International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is dedicated to raising awareness that enforced disappearance is a crime. It is also a day to honour victims and survivors of enforced disappearances and a reminder of the ongoing plight of victims, survivors and their families, who need assistance. It is also a day for state and non-state actors to commit to renewed and increased support to help combat enforced disappearances.
On this day, ZLHR and The Forum stand in solidarity with all victims, survivors of enforced disappearances, and their families and calls on the government to take concrete action to ensure that all those affected access effective remedies which they are entitled to. ZLHR and The Forum also reiterate that the government has an obligation to take action to ensure that the disappeared are accounted for. Further, victims and survivors also have a right to know what happened and who was responsible, and access to relevant support that facilitates the process
ZLHR and The Forum are particularly concerned that the deplorable practice of enforced disappearances has not been criminalised as a standalone crime in Zimbabwe. It is disheartening that the government rejected a recommendation made by other UN member states encouraging Zimbabwe to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of all Persons Against Enforced Disappearances. This recommendation has been proposed by other UN member states since 2011 and again in March 2017 during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Mechanism sessions. The government of Zimbabwe has unfortunately not yet accepted this recommendation.
This recommendation if accepted, domesticated and fully implemented will go a long way towards eradicating the pervasive practice of enforced disappearances.
It is saddening that human rights campaigners among them Itai Dzamara, Patrick Nabanyama and Paul Chizuze remain missing and unaccounted for after they were subjected to enforced disappearances several years ago. ZLHR and The Forum condemn the lack of progress in investigating enforced disappearances of Dzamara, Chizuze and Nabanyama and punishing those responsible. It is also very disheartening that the victims and survivors of the disappearances that occurred in the 1980s in Matabeleland are yet to access effective remedies or interact with meaningful transitional justice processes. Those responsible for disappearing these citizens have committed a heinous crime under international law.
ZLHR and The Forum call on government to:
- Fully embrace the recommendations to ratify and domesticate the United Nations Convention for the Protection of all Persons Against Enforced Disappearances.
- Introduce required institutional and legislative reforms for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances.
- Criminalise enforced disappearances.
- Ensure that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission has required resources to institute processes for victims, survivors of those disappeared to access effective remedies and other necessary support.
- Eradicate impunity for perpetrators of enforced disappearances and ensure full accountability of all perpetrators and guarantee redress and rehabilitation to victims.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum)