By Farai Matiashe
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) yesterday launched a national inquiry into challenges being experienced in accessing identity documents.
The hearings will be conducted in all the 10 provinces, from the first week of May, in a move that could bring relief to many people who have been struggling to get documents such as passports, national identity cards, birth and death certificates in the past.
Speaking at the launch in Harare yesterday, ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi said it was his commission’s mandate to ensure that citizens enjoyed basic human rights, including the right to have national documents, as enshrined in the Constitution.
“In its work, since operationalisation in June 2014, the ZHRC has determined that problems associated with access to national documentation are some of the major human rights challenges confronting the country,” he said.
Mugwadi said based on stakeholder engagement meetings, community outreaches, complaints from the public, including monitoring and assessment missions undertaken by the commission four years ago, it became apparent that problems of accessing documents had affected and continued to affect a significant number of Zpo0iimbabweans, who feel short on full enjoyment of their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Mugwadi has invited written and oral submissions from stakeholders and the public not later than July 31 this year.
The commission would also accept expert reports, videos, audios and other forms of evidence regarding access to documentation in its jurisdiction and beyond.
Mugwadi said ZHRC wanted to establish the root causes of the challenges in accessing documents.
“(The commission will) enquire into and determine the root causes and factors which prevent ease access to identity documents and to assess the impact of documentation by individuals and groups on the enjoyment of human rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, national laws and relevant international and regional treaties and instruments,” he said.
Mugwadi said his commission was going to review the effectiveness of the existing laws, intuitions, policies and procedures and also analyse attitudes and beliefs relating to accessing identity documents in Zimbabwe and report, recommend and follow up on steps to be taken to address those challenges.