Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating Human Rights Day, a day that is observed every year on the 10th of December. In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day to ensure that the rights of every human across the globe are protected and respected.
The commemorations for this year are running under the theme, Equality: Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights. The theme acknowledges that equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights hence the need to address and find solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that continue to affect vulnerable groups such as women,girls,people with disabilities and indigenous people among others.
The COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities ranging from poor access to vaccines by vulnerable groups to lack of social safety nets .This has seen vulnerable groups groups being neglected during such times of disasters. For Zimbabwe however, human rights violations especially by the state have escalated under the COVID 19 induced lockdown. These range from arbitrary arrests under the guise of enforcement of lockdown measures to coordinated attacks on political opponents. A case in point is that of MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa whose supporters were attacked in Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland West during a tour of provinces.
The occasion of this year commemorations are also taking place at a time when the state has all but demonstrated how it has negated its international obligations to respect and uphold fundamental human rights and freedoms of its citizens. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states that “Human Beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”. The right to life is inalienable and is a fundamental human right that must be enjoyed and celebrated by everyone. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. The enjoyment of these rights by citizens in Zimbabwe remains elusive.
International Human Rights Day must serve as a reminder to Zimbabwe on the need to demonstrate political will by creating an environment where justice, peace and fundamental human rights and freedoms are enjoyed by all without bias or favour. Some of the steps that the state must take include dealing with past episodes of state sponsored violence such as Gukurahundi and 2008 violence. As a member of the United Nations, the government must also adhere and respect international human rights practices such as freedom to demonstrate, petition and freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Independent Commissions mandated to safeguard human rights such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) must be adequately resourced and allowed to carry out their obligations without political interference.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe