Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has received formal notification from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) that a recent communication, outlining continued human rights abuses perpetrated against WOZA members, was accepted during the 14th Extraordinary Session held from July 20–24, 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. By accepting the communication, the ACHPR requests that the Zimbabwean government respond to the rights violations included in the document.
The communication number 446/13 was taken by Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, and WOZA against the Republic of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Lawyer’s for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) now have 60 days to argue for admissibility of the case.
The nature of the complaint is that the Republic of Zimbabwe – which ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on May 30, 1986 – has routinely violated WOZA’s right to peaceful protest and assembly. The communication, which was initially submitted in April 2013, documents a lengthy series of arrests, beatings, arbitrary detentions, and general physical harassment of WOZA members for over a decade between 2003 and 2013.
Formed in 2002, WOZA is a mass civic movement with a countrywide membership of approximately 85,000 citizens. WOZA lobbies and advocates on issues pertaining to women and their families in Zimbabwe and participates in a range of peaceful campaigns, both locally and internationally. WOZA’s principal aim is to mobilise Zimbabweans, particularly women, to demand social justice and educates its members about their rights and freedoms and encourages them to fully participate in important civic processes. WOZA conducts civic education programmes and teaches its members nonviolent ways to advance and protect their basic human rights.