International Human Rights Day is set aside to commemorate the values
enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s
theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” places respect and
upholding of human rights at the heart of recovery efforts to end the
spread of COVID-19.
The theme relates to the devastating coronavirus pandemic and focuses
on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central
to recovery efforts and presents an opportunity to reaffirm the
importance of human rights in re-building. As the whole world grapples
with COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the world need to show
unprecedented solidarity and compassion to assist each other to pull
through during this challenging moment.
Sadly, in Zimbabwe, state actors have over the past year abused and
exploited enforcement of regulations enacted to curtail human mobility
and interaction thereby providing government with a smokescreen to
escalate a systematic assault on human rights defenders and ordinary
citizens and restricting their fundamental rights and freedoms in a
bid to consolidate executive power.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) issued
Resolution 443 on the human rights situation in the Republic of
Zimbabwe condemning the deteriorating situation and the authorities
response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 which include
disproportionate use of force by law enforcement agents curtailment of
the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Resolution 443 also
urges the government to protect and respect the rights of medical
practitioners, journalists and human rights defenders.
The resolution by ACHPR came hard on the heels of another condemnation
by some United Nations human rights experts in June 2020 calling on
the government to immediately end a pattern of disappearances and
torture aimed at suppressing protests and dissent during the
government enforced national lockdown. ZLHR remains concerned at the
continued disrespect of human rights.
While ZLHR welcomes ACHPR’s and UN human rights experts’ call for the
government to address the deteriorating human rights situation in
Zimbabwe, government is yet to fully comply and adhere to these
resolutions and recommendations.
ZLHR urges government to;
• Take all measures to help contain human rights excesses and
implement recommendations made by the ACHPR and the UN human rights
• Investigate all reported violations and bring perpetrators to
account for their actions and ensure access to justice to all victims;
• Allocate adequate resources to relevant personnel at the frontline
of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic;
ABOVE ALL, TO RECOVER BETTER, LET US STAND UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.