Zimbabwe under spotlight as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights meets

Zimbabwe’s human rights record will come under the spotlight when the continental human rights body, the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights meets for its 73rd ordinary session in Banjul, the Gambia from 20 October 2022.

One of the topical issues which is likely to feature in the complaints which will be filed against Zimbabwe is the increased incidences of political violence with the latest incident being the attacks on members of the opposition party CCC in Matobo and Insiza.

The continued incarceration of opposition lawmakers, Job Sikala and Godfrey Sithole together with at least 15 residents from Nyatsime is expected to be reported to the continental body.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from Zimbabwe are among the African NGOs attending the Forum for NGOs to the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission. On 18 October 2022, the Forum, for the participating NGOs, adopted resolutions and recommendations to be forwarded to the African Commission. Among the resolutions adopted is one on the shrinking civic space in Zimbabwe where NGOs which are not currently registered as Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) will be rendered illegal if the PVO Amendment Bill currently before Parliament becomes law. An international organisation, Paradigm Initiative attending the Forum listed Zimbabwe among the countries which have violated the right to freedom of expression through internet shutdowns. The authorities shut down the internet in January 2019 following protests over fuel price increases.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will deliver a statement to the African Commission on the human rights situation in the country where he is expected to highlight key human rights concerns which include the weaponization of bail as a political tool, partisan policing by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the increase in political violence as the country gears itself for 2023 harmonised elections.

Zimbabwe’s porous medical facilities and the treatment of doctors and nurses who face conscription in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are likely to be raised by the Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights which has observer status with the African Commission.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, currently commemorating its 35th anniversary was established by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to promote human and people’s rights and ensure their protection in Africa. The Commission was inaugurated on 2 November 1987.

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