The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) is a coalition of 17 human rights NGOs working towards the elimination of organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe. It has been in existence since January 1998 when 9 human rights NGOs joined together to provide legal and psychosocial assistance to the victims of organised violence and torture.
In pursuing its mandate, the Forum produces relevant monthly and ad hoc reports. In commemorating World Human Rights Day 2006, the Forum draws attention to its recently published reports, which include:
“Political repression disguised as civic mindedness. Operation Murambatsvina one year later”. This is an audit of the Government’s compliance with the recommendations of the UN Special Envoy Ms Anna Kajimulo Tibaijuka on Operation Murambatsvina. A summary of this report is given below and highlights the plight of people still affected by this “disastrous venture”, as described in the Tibaijuka report.
“An analysis of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum legal cases 1998-2006”. In producing this report in June 2006, the Forum examined the civil litigation it had undertaken in pursuit of compensatory damages made on behalf of victims of organised violence and torture. Only cases, which had progressed through the courts, were included. The Forum contends that there is irrefutable proof of the violation of the human rights of the victims whose cases have gone through the courts and who have received judgement that such human rights abuses do exist and have to be redressed.
“Only bruises on the soles of their feet. The use of falanga by the Zimbabwe Republic Police”. Falanga is now widely reported as a form of torture and the report will complement the Forum’s publication to be issued on the United Nations International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2006 under the title:
“Who guards the guards: violations by law enforcement agencies, 2000-2006”.
Copies of the reports are either available on the Forum’s website www.hrforumzim.com or on request to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
ZIMBABWE IGNORES UN OVER URBAN DEMOLITIONS
Some 18 months after launching a brutal campaign of urban demolitions and forced evictions, the government of Zimbabwe has ignored all the recommendations contained in a highly critical United Nations report, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said in a report entitled “Political Repression disguised as Civic Mindedness: Operation Murambatsvina One Year Later” which it published on 30 November 2006.
The Forum, in a 45-page audit of events since the so-called Operation Murambatsvina or Operation Clean Up Filth, urged international action over the Mugabe government’s long record of disregarding international conventions. Zimbabwe must be discussed at the UN Security Council, it added.
“It can legitimately be asked of the international community, how long will it accept that this is the behaviour of a responsible member of the community of nations?’’ the Forum said. “And, furthermore, what action of the Zimbabwe government will finally invoke the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect imposed on the international community?’’
UN Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka, in a report released in July 2005, said the demolition of thousands of dwellings and makeshift stalls was a “catastrophe’’, which had robbed 700,000 people of their homes and livelihoods. She made 12 recommendations, including prosecutions of those responsible, a proper reconstruction programme, compensation for victims, and that the Zimbabwe authorities facilitate humanitarian operations.
The Forum said that none of this has happened: the authorities have obstructed humanitarian aid; the official reconstruction programme is a “complete fiasco’’ riddled with corruption and nepotism; hundreds of thousands continue to live in deplorable conditions in camps; and evictions have continued.
The Zimbabwe government’s argument that the operation was for the benefit of the people is shown to be false, said the report. The informal sector remains as it is, corruption has increased at all levels, there is no meaningful rehousing, and the economy has worsened.
But, said the Forum, if the real motive was to suppress opposition, then it had succeeded by making it more difficult to organise anti-government protests.
“For the ordinary Zimbabwean, it matters little whether the Zimbabwe government is malevolent or incompetent, or both; all that they can look forward to is a life of extreme hardship, and the certainty that any complaint about their lot will be met with brutal repression and denial from a government that few believe has a legitimate right to be in power,’’ the report said.