GLOBAL human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has called on President Robert Mugabe’s new government to urgently work on improving the country’s human rights record and provide remedies for past violations.
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In a report titled Human Rights Agenda for the New Government — 2013 to 2018, AI deputy director for Southern Africa Noel Kututwa said the new Zanu PF government would be judged on the basis of its human rights record and ability to better citizens’ living conditions.
“The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for the government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver justice for its people and to allow freedom of expression. With political will, all that is possible,” Kututwa said.
“We want to see the new government sending a clear signal that it is committed to breaking away from a past where human rights were blatantly violated.”
Kututwa added that the government should immediately repeal or amend all those laws not in conformity with the new Constitution and stop harassment of human rights defenders.
“The rights to freedom of expression and association of all those working to promote or protect human rights must be respected. The government must immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against anyone arrested for exercising their internationally guaranteed rights.”
The rights body also called for an official moratorium on forced evictions, describing government’s planned demolition of illegal structures as a human rights breach.
“Forced eviction is unconstitutional in Zimbabwe. Section 74 of the Constitution recognises the right to ‘freedom from arbitrary eviction.’ Under international law people facing eviction are entitled to adequate notice, they should be genuinely consulted, be given viable alternative housing and are entitled to compensation.”