The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) has today called on the Government of Zimbabwe to investigate the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 March 2015.
The call was made in a joint statement with the World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, during the consideration of the Universal
Periodic Review (UPR) outcome of Zimbabwe.
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground. Zimbabwe was reviewed in November 2016 and 260 recommendations on human rights were made including the recommendation to investigate human rights violations.
Speaking on behalf of the organisations in the council today, Blessing Gorejena, the Programmes Coordinator at the Forum said that the greatest sign of commitment by the government is not merely attending UPR sessions and accepting recommendations but a positive change in the human rights environment. The Forum and Civicus said they were saddened that despite consistent participation by Zimbabwe in successive UPR sessions, the situation on the ground remains dire with state authorities showing disregard for basic freedoms, particularly the freedoms of assembly and expression.
“Human rights defenders continue to face harassment, arbitrary arrests and torture for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression,” said Gorejena. The organisations also raised concern that state institutions such as the police, military and the intelligence continue to wilfully perpetrate human rights violations despite assurances by Zimbabwe to provide security service with human rights training.
“In particular, we urge the government to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of prominent human rights activist Itai Dzamara on 9 March 2015.”
The Forum and Civicus also noted that they were concerned by the Constitutional Amendment Bill no.1 which they said would considerably weaken independence of the judiciary.
Read the full statement here
Forum Civicus Oral UPR Statement 2017