THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has urged the government to adhere to the Constitution and respect freedom of assembly, association and conscience.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In its 2016 report tabled before Parliament last week by Justice minister Happyton Bonyongwe, ZHRC noted the violent wave of civil unrest which permeated the country the prior year and clampdown on demonstrators by law enforcement agents.
“The government refused to sanction the protests, which were suppressed by State security agents even when the protesters had court orders authorising their protests.
“In response to complaints lodged to the ZHRC, the commission conducted two investigations into police conduct during the protests, which led to the publication of a Press statement condemning police and security agents’ heavy-handedness and also calling on the protesting public to be peaceful and respectful of the rights of others,” the ZHRC said.
“In view of the ongoing violations, the ZHRC urges the government to refrain from interfering with the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution such as freedom of assembly, association and freedom of conscience.”
ZHRC also recommended that the government must improve service delivery and be committed to finding a lasting solution to the ever-declining social and economic conditions.
“Government must speed up all realignment of laws that do not comply with the Constitution. Government must ensure operationalisation of the outstanding independent commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Gender Commission,” the human rights body said.
The NPRC Bill was recently passed in Parliament, and while the Zimbabwe Gender Commission has already been set up, ZHRC said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Media Commission were severely underfunded.
“Government must continue to source for durable solutions to address economic challenges which are in turn contributing to the violation of rights. Fulfilment of socio-economic rights was difficult as the Zimbabwean economy continued to be under stress throughout 2016 on account of a tight liquidity crunch and other macro-economic challenges,” the ZHRC said.