Move from Rhetoric to Reality
Statement on International Human Rights Day
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) join the nation and the whole world in commemorating this auspicious day, set aside to celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
This year, marks the 70th year anniversary of the UDHR, and as we celebrate this milestone and commemorates this day we remind ourselves of the basic principles of justice, equality, non-discrimination, inclusion and respect for the inalienable rights which every human being is inherently entitled to. As ZLHR and the Forum commemorate this global expression of human rights and fundamental freedoms, we embrace the theme for this year #StandUPForHumanRights and reaffirm our commitment to fighting impunity and standing up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves.
We note, with concern that despite its membership of the United Nations and the ratification of several human rights treaties, human rights continue to be under threat in Zimbabwe. Citizens are confronted with violations of the right to education, right to health care and the right to property. Protections against torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and arbitrary evictions are routinely disregarded. Environmental rights which are crucial for the wellbeing of the next generation of Zimbabweans are trampled upon and children, the disabled and women continue to face a second class existence despite commitments made to accord them full and equal dignity.
Despite their crucial role in enhancing transparency, good governance and accountability, civil society organisations continue to be vilified and treated with suspicion by the government, and many human rights defenders have faced reprisals for their role in standing up for the rights of others.
The Forum and ZLHR call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to give effect to the guarantees set out under the UDHR, and the international human rights treaties to which Zimbabwe is a party. Specifically, we urge the government of Zimbabwe to:
i. Urgently complete the process of domestication of international human rights treaties in order to make them a part of our law, and ratify the Convention against Torture, and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness as previously accepted;
ii. Cease criminalising the work of civil society organisations and put an end to reprisals against human rights defenders;
iii. Entrench a culture of constitutionalism by aligning all outstanding laws to the constitution and implementing laws purposively to give effect to constitutional protections;
iv. Engender openness and transparency in all government proceedings by making reports generated by all Commissions of Inquiry since 1981 public;
v. Ensure equitable economic outcomes entrenching transparency and accountability in the public finance system as stipulated in the Constitution