Zimbabwe’s human rights record poor: HRW

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Zimbabwe police's heavy handedness is well documented. File picture

INTERNATIONAL rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Zimbabwe’s human rights record has remained poor despite the country’s recent adoption of a human rights-friendly Constitution.

BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

In its 2014 report released last Thursday, the HRW cited uninvestigated past human rights violations and existence of oppressive laws as cause for concern.

The report reads in part: “The enactment of a new Constitution has not resulted in improving the human rights environment largely due to Zanu PF’s failure to implement the rights provisions in the new Constitution.

“The government has neither taken steps to enact new laws to operationalise the Constitution, nor has it amended existing laws as necessary to bring them in line with the new Constitution’s provisions,” the rights watchdog said.

The report recommended the enforcement of domestic laws by holding those responsible for human rights abuses to account.

“While the establishment of an independent and credible human rights commission is set out in the new Constitution, there are significant concerns with the commission. The law establishing the commission states that it can only investigate alleged human rights abuses since February 2009.

“This prevents the commission from investigating previous serious crimes, including election-related violence in 2002, 2005, and 2008; the massacre of an estimated 20 000 people in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s; and the government-led mass demolitions of homes and evictions of 2005.”

HRW also accused partisan security forces of propagating human rights abuses on behalf of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party.

“The partisanship of the security forces’ leadership has translated into abuses by these forces against MDC members and supporters, and civil society organisations.”