Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) commends the government of Zimbabwe for its efforts in producing the national report as well as participation in the Interactive Dialogue during the just ended Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held on 2 November 2016.
The UPR process is a peer country-to-country review mechanism established by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2006 to monitor the overall human rights situation of UN member states. Hence the participation of Zimbabwe in this process must continue to be encouraged.
Following the presentation of the draft outcome report on 4 November 2016 by the Troika (comprising of Kenya, Macedonia and the United Arab Emirates) for adoption, we make the following observations;
• Whilst a total of 86 UN member states took the floor during the Interactive Dialogue, making a total of 260 recommendations, the government of Zimbabwe accepted 142, noted and rejected 18 and deferred for further scrutiny and consideration 100.
• It is encouraging to note that the accepted recommendations mainly relate to the implementation of the 2013 Constitution and the alignment of all legislation to the Constitution. Others relate to full operationalisation of constitutional Commissions and rule of law institutions.
• We applaud the government of Zimbabwe for accepting 142 recommendations, however, we call upon the government to set up a framework and effective mechanisms to not only implement these recommendations but to regularly review progress.
• Further, there must be progress to build on implementing other recommendations accepted in 2011 during the first review that had not been fully implemented by 2 November 2016.
Of the 100 recommendations that were deferred that were mainly focusing on the ratification of important human rights instruments, the Forum and ZLHR urges:
• The government to embrace those recommendations in order to eradicate the culture of torture, enforced disappearances that continue tarnish the human rights record of the country. These include the United Nations Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Protocol, amongst others.
Of the 18 recommendations that were either noted or did not enjoy the support of the government the Forum and ZLHR also urges;
• The government to reconsider the recommendations that it did not accept that focus on issues of non-discrimination of persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity as well as the ratification of the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC);
• To reconsider issuing a standing invitation to all mandate holders under special procedures.
Further, the Forum and ZLHR encourages the government to remain open to constructive dialogue as led by different stakeholders, whether from other UN member states, civil society or other actors that have an interest in contributing to fostering a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe.
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