Human Rights Monitors (HRMs) trained by Heal Zimbabwe across the country’s ten provinces have singled out Security sector reform as essential for the enjoyment of human rights in local communities. This came out during a virtual Human Rights Training refresher course for 250 HRMs organised by Heal Zimbabwe on 31 May 2022.
The objectives of the training were to evaluate the state of human rights in local communities as well as share strategies on effective monitoring and reporting of human rights violations. The training also sought to conscientize communities on human rights protection using the Bill of Rights and also how communities can make referral of cases of human rights violations to Independent Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
Participants highlighted that enjoyment of human rights in local communities remained a pipe dream since institutions such as the police that are mandated to enforce the law without fear or favour turn a blind eye to incidences of violence especially those that involve perpetrators from the ruling party, ZANU PF. “During the 2008 political violence police stations were no go areas. In many incidences, victims of political violence were arrested when they made reports of violence. To this day, we have people within their communities who were either tortured or had relatives killed who did not report to the police because they were afraid of being arrested”, said one participant
Participants also highlighted that law enforcement agents did very little to arrest perpetrators of political violence during the May 2022 by elections. “The recent by elections exposed especially the police who did very little to arrest perpetrators of violence in Kwekwe that left scores injured and one person dead. The talk of elections in 2023 brings fear to us here in Mudzi since most perpetrators of political violence are protected by the local police. Without reforming our security sector political violence will continue to characterize our elections, even the 2023 elections,” said one participant from Mudzi. Other issues that came out during the trainings include the inaccessibility of Independent Commissions such as the NPRC and ZHRC which made it difficult for communities to report cases of human rights violations.
Human Rights training is one among initiatives by Heal Zimbabwe to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe