International lawyers group to visit Zimbabwe

international_commission_of_juristsThe Deputy Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Wilder Tayler, arrived in Zimbabwe Monday afternoon on a three-day mission to assess the human rights situation. According to a report by the weekly Zimbabwe Standard newspaper, Tayler will meet various stakeholders in and outside the

The Africa Programme of the ICJ released a statement last week saying Tayler ‘will have the opportunity to interact and consult with the legal fraternity, policy community, diplomatic community and human rights organizations on the challenges facing the realization of human rights and respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.’ The group wants to help end the ‘endemic’ cycle of impunity for perpetrators of rights abuses.

The coalition partners in government however have already shown a reluctance to accept criticism from human rights groups. Two weeks ago Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara lashed out at Amnesty International saying their findings on Zimbabwe were a result of ‘hallucinations.’ After a six day visit the group had concluded that there were still persistent and serious human rights violations and that these were worsened by a failure to reform the army and police. It was no surprise that Mugabe avoided meeting the Amnesty International delegation.

Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR), who are affiliated
to the ICJ, will be coordinating some of Tayler’s meetings in Zimbabwe. In an interview with the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper Otto Saki from ZLHR confirmed their involvement and said they will focus specifically on Tayler’s meetings with NGO’s in the country.

The ICJ membership is composed of over 60 eminent jurists who are representatives of the different legal systems of the world. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Foundation, for example, are organizations affiliated to the ICJ. The group says it is ‘dedicated to the primacy, coherence and implementation of international law and principles that advance human rights.’

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