Government urged to restore people’s rights

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Sindiso Mhlophe

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mhlophes@dailynews.co.zw

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has called on the government to act urgently to ensure that political, social and economic rights are restored and accessible to all citizens.

This comes as the forum reported that 980 rights violations, including assaults, alleged abductions and torture, were recorded since the beginning of the country’s coronavirus (Covid-19)-induced national lockdown in March.

Zimbabwe recently came under international scrutiny over alleged human rights violations by State security agents which followed government’s crackdown on July 31 anti-government protesters.

In a report titled 100 days of what?, the forum called on the government to act urgently to ensure that political, social and economic rights were restored.

“The 180 days national lockdown period was marred by violations of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The forum recorded at least 920 human rights violations between 30 March and 18 September 2020.

“The consolidated statistics relate to abductions and torture, extrajudicial killings, assaults on citizens by law enforcement officers, attacks on journalists, unlawful arrests and gunshots. Other violations that could not be adequately quantified due to their high frequency include harassment, threats and intimidation.

“The lockdown was also marred by reports of violations on fundamental rights to dignity and rights not to be tortured, rights to water food, medical services, access to information, and restrictions to freedom of expression, noncompliance with court orders and corruption,” read the report.

The report indicated that of the 980 rights violations, 280 were assaults and torture, 20 attacks on journalists, 538 unlawful arrests and detention, 12 abductions, two gunshots, four extra-judicial killings, eights raids, 57 displacements and two harassments.

“The government should develop a code of conduct for the police which aligns with the minimum standards of conduct in the Luanda Guidelines, which is based on the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (Sarpcco) Code of Conduct, and which addresses issues of training on crowd control in the event of protests and strengthening of internal disciplinary systems to curb corruption and impunity,” the forum said.

It further called on the government to prioritise food aid for the vulnerable amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in the loss of livelihood for many people.

“The government of Zimbabwe must provide a meaningful monetary subsidy to vulnerable communities in the form of food aid packages, allowances and grants. The government of Zimbabwe must fulfil its commitment to rejuvenate, stimulate and grow the economy. A healthy economy will create job opportunities for the unemployed and improve livelihoods.”

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