Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission pre-election statement

 29 July 2013, The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is an independent institution established in terms of Section 242 of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 (Section 100R of the old Constitution).

In keeping with our mandate as already highlighted in our 13th and 17th July 2013 Press statements, we have been observing and monitoring the preparations for the harmonized elections due on Wednesday 31st July 2013. The Commission is pleased to note that the political environment has so far been peaceful and we commend the political leaders and their followers for conducting themselves in a mature and responsible manner.  

While the prevailing peaceful environment is commendable, ZHRC cautions that peace is not simply the absence of violence. As a Commission we believe that peace is predicated upon justice, which is rooted in the respect and observance of human rights. Any human rights abuses are an affront to peace and can undermine the credibility of the electoral process and its outcome.

We also acknowledge the important role that the media plays in all national and political processes, especially elections. The Commission urges the media to execute its role fairly, accurately and equitably. Biased reporting short changes the electorate as a majority of voters rely on information from the media to make critical electoral decisions. The Commission exhorts the media to refrain from the use of inflammatory language and hate speech during and beyond the electoral process. Inflammatory language and hate speech by any party campaigners individually and collectively must be disabused by the media and all human rights defenders, the ZHRC included.

In that regard the Commission implores the electorate and political parties to vote PEACEFULLY and remain PEACEFUL after the electoral process. Peace and the respect of human rights, diversity and differences are fundamental aspects of a FREE, FAIR and CREDIBLE election.

We reiterate our position that we are ready to receive complaints about any possible election related human rights violations and any other general human rights violations. Meanwhile, the Commission will continue to monitor and assess the observance of human rights and freedoms for now and in the future. We will take appropriate action where necessary including, but not limited to, directing the Commissioner General of police to investigate cases of suspected criminal violations of human rights as constitutionally mandated. Last but not least, despite the logistical glitches experienced by ZEC during the special vote, the ZHRC would like to encourage ZEC to ensure that the electoral process is fully consummated through due diligence.

ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.