Rights commission under fire

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HARARE – Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) yesterday came under fire for failing to observe Africa Human Rights Day.

ZHRC is the first State body tasked with investigating rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Okay Machisa, ZimRights director, said the failure by ZHRC to observe the day was regrettable.

“The failure by ZHRC to commemorate this day goes on to show that the government has not invested in human rights,” Machisa said.

“If there is any investment, it’s on violating these human rights. Going forward, we demand that the government should respect human rights and fund the ZHRC so that it can be able to deal with issues pertaining to human rights.”

Yesterday, Zimbabwean rights groups joined the rest of the continent to commemorate the Africa Human Rights Day, a day set aside by the African Union to take note of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

Ellen Sithole, the acting ZHRC chairperson, said they failed to observe the day because of lack of cash. 

“We did nothing on the day because we are faced with operational challenges and lack of resources,” she told the Daily News. “I cannot say more on this over the phone.”

The ZHRC is currently without a leader after Jacob Mudenda was elected Speaker of the National Assembly. Mudenda was picked to replace Reg Austin who quit citing meddling and lack of resources.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) called upon the government to implement its human rights obligations.

“Citizens continue to be subjected to flagrant violations of their fundamental rights by State and non-State actors,” the statement said.

“Arbitrary arrests, detention, prosecution and persecution of human rights defenders and ordinary citizens, including harmless mothers and children, continue even under a successor government to the coalition administration ZLHR said.

“National healing process has failed to materialise or to contribute meaningfully to rebuilding the shattered lives of those who suffered grave violations in Zimbabwe throughout the history. Impunity remains blight on the nation through failure.

“ZLHR calls upon government authorities to implement in good faith their human rights obligations and commitments.”

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