‘Increasing cases of human rights violations worrisome’

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has expressed concern at the increasing cases of human rights violations, saying residents were being subjected to police brutality and internal displacements due to illegal demolitions.

VENERANDA LANGA

The lawyers grouping appeared before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights where it was represented by programmes managers Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Rose Hanzi and Maureen Sibanda.

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Although Zimbabwe has made strides in ratification of human rights protocols, the ZLHR said socio-economic and political rights were being breached.

“There is embedded political polarisation, and lack of political will to implement socio and economic rights,” Chimbga said.

“Socio-economic rights violations have been on the increase especially in urban areas, with cases of forced evictions, and ZLHR assisted at least 65 families after they were evicted through demolitions of their property.”

Chimbga said despite court judgments and constitutional provisions against demolitions, the violations continued unperturbed.

At Chingwizi camp in Masvingo, Chimbga said people have lost their rights to dignity, shelter, education, health and food through internal displacement.

“Farm workers continue to be displaced, and there is a high number of them evicted from Mashonaland Central and they were not offered alternative land, terminal benefits or places where they can reside,” Hanzi chipped in.

Other violations noted by ZLHR include repression of informal traders where most of them have their goods confiscated, and where a lot of political manipulation is also used to control their operations.

Denial of food aid on political grounds was also noted, but Senators demanded lists of places where those incidences allegedly took place.

Chimbga said they also noted human rights abuses where mothers who have given birth are detained for failure to pay hospital fees, and human rights violations in the education sector where results are withheld from poor students who fail to pay fees.

“Human rights defenders have been arrested while doing their work and in 92% of the cases the arrests were unjustified and victims acquitted. We have 224 cases of human rights defenders including lawyers, members of civic society organisations, journalists and student activists arrested and charged,” he said.

He said laws such as Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Codification Act and Public Order and Security Act were often misrepresented by the police and used on the arrests, adding they need to be aligned with the Constitution.

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