On International Human Rights Day, Recover Better and Stand Up for Human Rights

ON International Human Rights Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon government to take concrete measures that address the human rights situation and curb the continued spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

International Human Rights Day is set aside to commemorate the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” places respect and upholding of human rights at the heart of recovery efforts to end the spread of COVID-19.

The theme relates to the devastating coronavirus pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts and presents an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building. As the whole world grapples with COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the world need to show unprecedented solidarity and compassion to assist each other to pull through during this challenging moment.

Sadly, in Zimbabwe, state actors have over the past year abused and exploited enforcement of regulations enacted to curtail human mobility and interaction thereby providing government with a smokescreen to escalate a systematic assault on human rights defenders and ordinary citizens and restricting their fundamental rights and freedoms in a bid to consolidate executive power.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) issued Resolution 443 on the human rights situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe condemning the deteriorating situation and the authorities response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 which include disproportionate use of force by law enforcement agents curtailment of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Resolution 443 also urges the government to protect and respect the rights of medical practitioners, journalists and human rights defenders.

The resolution by ACHPR came hard on the heels of another condemnation by some United Nations human rights experts in June 2020 calling on the government to immediately end a pattern of disappearances and torture aimed at suppressing protests and dissent during the government enforced national lockdown. ZLHR remains concerned at the continued disrespect of human rights.

While ZLHR welcomes ACHPR’s and UN human rights experts’ call for the government to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe, government is yet to fully comply and adhere to these resolutions and recommendations.

ZLHR urges government to:

  • Take all measures to help contain human rights excesses and implement recommendations made by the ACHPR and the UN human rights experts;
  • Investigate all reported violations and bring perpetrators to account for their actions and ensure access to justice to all victims;
  • Allocate adequate resources to relevant personnel at the frontline of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic;

Above all, to recover better, let us stand up for human rights.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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