On August 30, every year, The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances as established by the UN General Assembly in 2010.
Strictly prohibited under International Human Rights Law, enforced disappearance continues to be used as a method of repression, terror, and stifling dissent.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance states that an enforced disappearance, which is a crime against humanity, occurs when:
“persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
As we mark the day, ZimRights condemns all enforced disappearances and calls on governments to facilitate the return of and provide information about all victims of enforced disappearances, and to undertake independent and transparent investigations into all such cases.
We call on government and the Zimbabwe Courts to conclude the enforced disappearances cases of Tawanda Muchehiwa, Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, who are 2020 victims of enforced disappearances.
Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation. We call on government to investigate and provide information on the many Zimbabweans that have not been accounted for among them, Itai Dzamara from 2015, despite a high court order to the police to search for him, Patrick Nabanyana in 2000 and many others.
Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close family members of the victims but to all of us as community members.
ZimRights continues to be worried by the lack of political will by the government to ratify key conventions that obligates the state to prevent enforced disappearances.
As we mark the day, ZimRights calls on the government of Zimbabwe to put an end to the pervasive culture of enforced disappearance through;
- Respecting the constitution of Zimbabwe which, under chapter 4, speaks to the safeguarding of fundamental human rights as well as Section 206 of the Constitution which obliges Zimbabwe’s security services to act with utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution.
- Ratifying the United Nations Conventions Against Torture or Inhuman Treatment as well as the International Convention for The Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances among other progressive conventions.
- A legal framework must be put in place to ensure adequate compensation and rehabilitation for the victims and families of enforced disappearances
- Zimbabwe must fulfill its obligations to prevent enforced disappearance, to search for the victims, and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators
- ZimRights also demands politicians to desist from using enforced disappearances as a tool to deal with dissent and create fear in communities