Statement on National Shutdown

Heal Zimbabwe condemns the conduct by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) during demonstrations that rocked some parts of the country on 14 January 2018. In some suburbs of Bulawayo, like Nkulumane, Makokoba and Pumula the police responded to the demonstrations by firing tear gas canisters into people’s homes. In Harare, the heavy handedness of the police was felt when they fired live ammunition to protestors in areas such as Epworth and Chitungwiza. In all this callous behaviour by the police, there was loss of lives, destruction of property as well as injuries to innocent civilians. The organization has even received information to the effect that to date, members of the security services continue to beat up citizens. Since yesterday about twenty people were reportedly shot dead by members of the security forces, dozens injured and hundreds displaced.

Article 7 of the Rome Statute provide for Crimes against humanity. Under Article 7 (k) crimes such as intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health constitute Crimes Against Humanity. Under International criminal law, crimes against humanity are serious crimes. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights state that “Human rights are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”. Such a provision also African Union (AU) member states such as Zimbabwe to observe, adopt legislative or other measures to ensure the full enjoyment of such rights by citizens. Added to this, Chapter 4 of the Zimbabwean constitution explicitly provides for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms such as right to life, human dignity, and personal security. It then becomes the responsibility of the state to ensure that such rights are preserved and upheld.

Heal Zimbabwe also condemns in the strongest terms the looting of goods and resorting to violence by some protestors during demonstrations. Several incidents of citizens looting in shops, burning properties and barricading roads have been observed. This not only invites violent clampdown from the security services but also is an abuse of constitutional provision 59 that provides for the right to demonstrate and petition. Such a provision highlights that this sacred right must be exercised peacefully.

In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores the police to use peaceful means during demonstrations. Heal Zimbabwe further calls upon the Government to put measures in place that ensure that its citizens enjoy their constitutional rights of demonstrating and petitioning. Government must also swiftly operationalize and establish an independent complaints mechanism that is provided for in Section 210 of the constitution. This mechanism allows members of the public to report misconduct on the part of members of the security services and is key for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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