Trials, reparations vital: ZLHR

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have urged the state to deal with past human rights violations through trials, national enquiries and reparations in order to overcome the continuing culture of impunity for perpetrators.

“There is urgent need to approve the legislation that will operationalise the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and allow it to start functioning properly. It is a critical institution in the difficult battle to reduce, stop and/or prevent ongoing and future human rights violations,” say the lawyers.

‘‘It must be fully functional in order to play its role as elections approach. Resistance in relation to the issue of temporal jurisdiction is delaying such operationalisation and ensuring that the ZHRC cannot act on any ongoing and future human rights violations.”

The lawyers also called for an independent mechanism to deal with all past human rights violations that have occurred – including the pre-Independence era, as well as the post-Independence atrocities of Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina, and electoral-related crimes.

ZLHR urged political parties, trade unions, civil society, non-governmental organisations and survivors of violations and their families to ensure that they played their role in ensuring that sufficient pressure was brought to bear on the government to make sure it established the legislation.

“(It) must be clearly understood and stressed that crimes committed in the past remain crimes, whether or not a national human rights institution exists to deal with them. Government, political players and other perpetrators of violations must disabuse themselves of the notion that the creation of such mechanisms removes responsibility and punishment for such crimes,’’ said ZLHR.

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