Report on the Independent Complaints Mechanism

The Constitutional Law Centre has published a report on the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Bill. The commentary analyses the extent to which the Bill satisfies the requirements of section 210 of the Constitution which is the section enabling the legislation.

Introduction

The purpose of this commentary is to critically examine whether the Bill meets the constitutional mandate as provided for in section 210 of the Constitution. This is because section 210 is the enabling provision which means the Bill’s terms must fit within its parameters and fulfill its promise. The second reason is that under the principle of constitutional supremacy, the Constitution is the highest law in the country with which every law must comply. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the Bill is consistent with the basic structure of the Constitution. Where it contravenes the Constitution, it will be rendered invalid to the extent of that inconsistency. This report, therefore, critically examines the extent to which the Bill complies with the Constitution.

Conclusion

The main observation is that while on the face of it there are some efforts to promote accessibility, the net result is that the current Bill has many barriers that are likely to hinder the independence and effectiveness of the ICM. These barriers stand in the way of creating an effective and independent ICM as required by the enabling provision of the Constitution. The suggestion for an ICM was made in good faith, the framers of the Constitution believing that it would create a cheaper, quicker, and more efficient way of handling disputes between citizens and members of the security services. However, it appears that there are stakeholders who feel they must have a gatekeeping role at the ICC, which unfortunately detracts from its independence. The essential principles underpinning the ICC are independence, impartiality, and effectiveness. However, the current design of the ICC does not fulfil these key principles.

Read the full analysis here (367KB PDF)

Source: Constitutional Law Centre

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