Lockdown: ZHRC condemns use of violence by security forces

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has condemned the use of violence by law enforcement agents against citizens who breach COVID-19 national lockdown regulations.

The police and army have since become tougher on citizens caught on the wrong side of lockdown regulations, which among other things restrict movement of people.

In a statement, this week ZHRC said where the government was faced with two or more options, a less restrictive alternative should be employed to contain situations.

The Commission emphasized that restrictions should meet the standards of necessity and proportionality in line with the provisions of the Constitution on limitation of fundamental rights and freedoms during public emergencies.

“The Commission has come across media reports of incidents where citizens found in breach of the confinement order have been assaulted by some members of the police and army at shopping centres and some roadblock points,” said ZHRC.

“It (Commission) observed that employees from the critical skills sector, including health professionals and journalists have been denied passage by the police at security roadblocks and at times spend long hours trying to justify their movement in the line of duty.”

The statutory human rights watchdog said it had been advised that in some instances letters from employers that justify one’s movement were being disregarded at roadblocks.

Such conduct by law enforcers, ZHRC said, inconveniences sectors such as agriculture with some fresh produce farmers suffering losses due to lack of knowledge on how they are expected to operate.

“The Government of Zimbabwe and in particular the Zimbabwe Republic Police is urged to communicate more clearly regarding the code of conduct and requirements which should be met by those who have been exempted and allowed to conduct their normal businesses,” argued ZHRC.

The Commission reiterated that all duty bearers, both in public and private sectors, must observe a human rights-based approach in the maintenance of prevention measures against COVID-19.

“This means that any directive, policy or mechanism must comply with key human rights principles relating to human dignity, non-discrimination and protection of vulnerable and marginalised groups,” added the Commission.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)

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