7 September 2018
Response to Allegations Against the Forum by State Media
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is greatly disturbed by the attempts by the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) to evade responsibility regarding the human rights violations that have rocked Zimbabwe since 1 August 2018 when the military shot and killed innocent civilians in Harare.
The state media, in particular the Sunday Mail of the 19th of August and the Herald of the 25th and 29th of August 2018, consistently portrayed attempts by the government to challenge the Forum’s Post –Election Violence Monitoring Report published on 15 August 2018. The report was shared with all stakeholders including the government, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Diplomatic Community. The ZHRC and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have since issued statements, condemning the violations. The ZHRC further confirmed in its statement that it has received similar reports and dispatched teams to the affected regions. It is regrettable that such reports in the state media are aimed at discrediting the work of the Forum and its members over the past 20 years.
The Forum is a coalition of 22 human rights organisations operating in Zimbabwe. The Forum was established in 1998 in response to state violence upon protestors during the 1998 Food Riots. Since then, the Forum has worked with many victims of organised violence and torture in assisting them to have redress. The Forum has processed over 7 000 civil cases on behalf of affected victims in domestic and regional courts. In the domestic courts, the Forum has won over $160 000 on behalf of victims whose rights have been violated. Several of these cases have been against the state which has, however, consistently refused to honour its legal obligations towards the victims.
Over the past two decades of solidarity with victims of state brutality, the Forum has remained consistent in pushing for justice and accountability. The Forum was instrumental in the establishment of the Chapter 12 Commissions that support democracy and human rights, particularly the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) through its lobby and advocacy initiatives. After the coming into effect of the 2013 Constitution, the Forum has worked with a number of stakeholders to ensure that the ZHRC and the NPRC are capacitated to do their work. The Forum’s commitment to democracy and human rights is beyond question. Its work over the years bears great testimony.
The violence documented in the Forum’s August 2018 Post-Election Violence Monitoring Report laments the pervasive culture of impunity and general lack of accountability by the government towards its citizens. While the Forum notes the announcement by the President to appoint a seven member commission of enquiry, the Forum remain concerned about the lack of concreate action by the government to address the plight of the victims and the absence of guarantees for security of witnesses some of whom have been targeted for retributive attacks. This continued denial by state further increases the vulnerability of the victims. This is why the reports in the state media are regrettable. The taxpayer’s resources that are being wasted on propaganda must be used to pursue justice for the victims and hold perpetrators to account, beginning with the soldiers who shot and killed 6 civilians on 1 August 2018 and those who gave such orders.
The Forum is committed, as it has always been for the past two decades, to work tirelessly to ensure that justice is done and that perpetrators are held accountable.