THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has challenged Parliament to ensure that section 210 of the Constitution is implemented and enforced to reduce growing cases of civilians being victimised by State security agents, especially during protests.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
ZHRC commissioner Petunia Chiriseri told journalists on Tuesday that the Constitution stipulates that members of the public could report cases of human rights infractions by law enforcement agents to the human rights body, even if an Act of Parliament to enforce section 210 of the Constitution was not yet in place.
Section 210 of the Constitution stipulates that an Act of Parliament must provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.
Since 2013 when the Constitution came into effect, the Executive has not brought such a Bill before Parliament so that this could be implemented as required by the Constitution.
Calls to ensure that section 210 of the Constitution is implemented have become louder after six unarmed civilians were gunned down by soldiers and police officers in post-election violence on August 1 last year.
ZHRC said it received reports that eight people were gunned down during last week’s protests against fuel price hikes. Civic groups said at least 12 people died during the protests.
“Continued use of live ammunition on civilians by the army and police is strongly condemned and must be stopped because loss of life and serious injuries to people is gross violation of the most fundamental human rights as envisaged in section 48 of the Constitution,” Chiriseri said.
Section 48 of the Constitution states that every person has a right to life.
“Parliament must ensure implementation of section 210 of the Constitution by enacting a law of effecting mechanisms for receiving and investigating complaints from the public about the members of the security. We call upon government to make assurances of non-recurrence of these human rights abuses, and government must expedite ratification of the Convention Against Torture, Human and Degrading Treatment and Punishment,” Chiriseri said.
She said after the August 1 2018 killings, the ZHRC had engaged the responsible departments to ensure that section 210 is implemented.
“We were at one point told that government and the Ministry of Defence were in the process of working on the Bill to ensure that the mechanisms are put in place,” she said.