The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on Wednesday commended the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for sticking to its constitutional mandate by expeditiously dealing with alleged human rights abuses that were perpetrated by State agencies against protesters in recent days.
In a statement, the ZHR-NGO Forum Director, Lloyd Kuveya, said that the State should have respect for all the constitutional commissions, which included the Judicial Service Commission, the Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
Taken from African News Agency
“The Forum, a human rights watchdog that has received numerous reports from victims of the police brutality, incorporating demonstrators, bystanders, infants, the elderly and the disabled who were indiscriminately targeted, applauds the ZHRC for taking a position that is in keeping with its mandate without fear and favour.
“The ZHRC should remain fearless, accessible, independent, responsive, professional and have integrity, while the freedom to demonstrate and petition (Section 59) should be respected, protected and fulfilled,” Kuveya said.
Kuveya said attacks on the commission by some unnamed analysts accusing it of using the private media to publicise its statement on the skirmishes were reckless, saying the human rights commission was right in condemning police brutality on protesters.
The analysts had claimed that the commission had defended protesters at the expense of law enforcement agents and was biased towards opposition parties that had organised the protests.
“The institutional efficiency of the ZHRC should be applauded. Civil and political rights in accordance with international rights dictates should be addressed expeditiously and not progressively. The Constitution in section 243 (1) (c) mandates the commission to monitor, assess and ensure observance of human rights and freedoms. Section 1(e) further obligates the ZHRC to protect the public against abuse of power and maladministration by State and Public institutions and by officers of those institutions,” the organisation added.
Kuveya said the ZHRC exercised its functions based on its professional judgments and should not be swayed by ideologies of political parties.
“Members of the public should not be swayed by convoluted arguments by unnamed legal experts or apologists. Contrary to the arguments of the critics, the ZHRC is not obliged to use the state media for its publications or press releases,” he said.
He said the ZHRC had the technical capacity to identify, monitor and validate human rights violations, adding that its expeditious response to the high levels of police brutality was not in any way partisan and could not be misconstrued as discrediting the police or political parties that benefited from repressed citizen participation in governance.
Kuveya said that the protesters were arrested was not evidence that they had committed any offence and therefore, deserved to be teargased.
“On the contrary, arbitrary arrests and indiscriminate beatings of citizens are indicative of a partisan police force, which is against the letter and spirit of Section 219 (3) of the Constitution, that prohibits the police from being partisan through abuse of provisions of POSA, deliberate refusal to clear demonstrations and harassment of demonstrators despite a court order inhibiting police from doing the same,” he said.