ZLHR Testifies before Commission of Inquiry Probing Post-Election Violence

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Thursday 22 November 2018 appeared before the Commission of Inquiry probing post-election violence, which broke out on 1 August 2018 in Harare.

ZLHR was represented by Mordecai Mahlangu, the Board Chairperson and Bellinda Chinowawa, the Programmes Manager for Access to Justice, who presented submissions before the Commission of Inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

In their submissions contained in an 18-page document, ZLHR said the killing of unarmed civilians by members of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) was arbitrary and constitutes a serious violation of the fundamental human right to life in terms of national, regional and international law.

The human rights organisation said the history of violence by members of the Zimbabwe National Army against unarmed civilians is well documented as several judgments have been entered against the Minister of Defence, who has been held to be vicariously liable for human rights violations perpetrated in the form of assaults, and other inhumane treatment of people.

ZLHR submitted that the failure by members of Zimbabwe Republic Police to provide security to the citizens who were protesting is a negation of their constitutional obligation to protect citizens from harm.

ZLHR expressed concern that the fact that some of the post-mortem reports distorted the real cause of death of people raises suspicion of foul play and a bid to conceal and absolve those responsible for the shooting from being held accountable.

As part of recommendations, ZLHR told the Commission of Inquiry that there is need for wholesale reforms targeting the security sector particularly the police and the ZDF and that government must ratify and domesticate all outstanding key human rights instruments such as the United Nations Convention Against Torture, United Nations Convention Against Enforced Disappearances, The African Union – Charter on Democracy and Elections. ZLHR said government must implement holistic electoral reforms following consultations with stakeholders ahead of the 2023 elections to improve the level of confidence of all stakeholders in the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

The seven-member Commission of Inquiry was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August to look into the disturbances that led to the killing of six Zimbabweans.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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