The Human Rights NGO Forum is deeply disturbed by the forced evictions of occupants of allegedly illegal structures and the destruction of their properties that has been perpetrated by the Police and in some instances, jointly with local authorities over the past two weeks.
The Forum notes that these actions are in clear violation of the law in that the authorities have not given the required notice to the evictees, which is 28 days under Section 199 of the Urban Councils Act, and have not given the evictees an opportunity to contest the legality of the actions through a court of law. In this regard, the onus is on the police to establish the law under which they act.
The Forum further notes that, notwithstanding the legality or otherwise of these actions, the manner of the demolitions and evictions is grossly and unjustifiably inhumane, and amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens in contravention of the Constitution and international and regional instruments to which Zimbabwe is a state party. These actions are also characterized by a massive and unnecessary show of force, which has instilled intense fear in the minds of the victims in particular and the public in general.
The Government has for several years acquiesced and in some instances actually encouraged the establishment of the settlements and other illegal structures. Consequently, the urgent and high-handed manner in which it has now acted is unjustifiable and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.