Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the continent to commemorate Africa Human Rights Day.
The theme for 2021 is “Africa Human Rights 40 years after adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.” The theme presents an opportunity for people from all walks of life around the African Union including Zimbabwe, to reflect on how far the member states and the people of Africa have implemented and upheld the values, fundamental rights and freedoms provided in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Zimbabwe like most other member states of the African Union is a state party to the African Charter. The African Charter also established the African Commission which has a three-pronged mandate of protection of human and peoples’ rights, promotion of human and peoples’ rights and the interpretation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Over the years, the African Commission has received periodic reports from member states updating on progress made towards implementing the African Charter and any challenges that the states are encountering. To this end, the Zimbabwean government has also submitted several reports to the African Commission, with the most recent having been submitted in 2019 highlighting the progress that the country has made in implementing the provisions of the African Charter.
Although the African Charter encourages member states to take necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the human and peoples’ rights espoused in the African Charter, there has been limited political will to fulfil these obligations. Despite the voluntary commitments that the Zimbabwean government has made under the African Charter, ZLHR remains concerned that violations of human and peoples’ rights in Zimbabwe continue unabated. The Bill of Rights provisions in the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe, domesticates some of the fundamental rights and freedoms in the African Charter. However, violations of civil rights, political rights, social, economic and cultural rights continue to be well documented. As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the continent on this Africa Human Rights Day, ZLHR is alarmed by recent incidents of politically motivated violence experienced by the opposition political party Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A) members during their community citizens’ conversation interface. Also disturbing are the reported attempts on the MDC-A party leader’s life – Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
On this Africa Human Rights Day, ZLHR urges government to;
- Implement all outstanding recommendations that have been made by the African Commission in its concluding observations following submission of the previous state reports.
- Implement recommendations made by the African Commission in Resolution 443 on the human rights situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
- Ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- Uphold political and civil rights without discrimination and arrest and prosecute perpetrators of political violence.