BY STAFF REPORTER
PARLIAMENT will this week conduct nationwide public hearings on the proposed amendments to the Complaints Commission Bill, which, if enacted, will enable the public to make complaints for human rights infringements by the security services.
A notice by Parliament yesterday stated that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will from today visit different parts of the country to gather public views on the Bill.
The Complaints Commission Bill seeks to provide for an independent complaints mechanism for the public against members of the security services pursuant to section 210 of the Constitution.
Section 210 of the Constitution deals with the issue of an independent complaints mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.
“The complaints mechanism is to be intermediated by a body which is independent from each of the security services, namely the police, defence, prisons, and correctional and intelligence services.
“The Bill establishes a commission to carry out this function with a view to remedying any harm caused by any misconduct on the part of any member of the security services,” read a statement yesterday by legal think-tank Veritas.
In the past, members of the security services have been accused of human rights abuses.
A report on the proposed Bill by the Justice ministry stated that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) also has a role to monitor the observance of human rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe.
“According to section 243, the ZHRC receives and considers complaints from the public and takes “such action in regard to the complaints as it considers appropriate,” part of the report read.
The ZHRC is empowered by the Constitution to investigate the conduct of any authority or person where it is alleged that any of the human rights and freedoms set out in the Declaration of Rights of Zimbabwe are violated.
However, the requirements of section 210 of the Constitution may imply that this function is beyond the jurisdiction of the ZHRC.
“Furthermore, the duplication of existing procedures for filing complaints about misconducts of part of the security services, as well as the various institutions and commissions established to receive and handle them, may hinder the effectiveness of the system,” Veritas said.
The Justice ministry said the Complaints Commission Bill called for security sector reforms, and provided a single window able to receive and investigate citizens’ complaints in relation to unlawful surveillance or illegal actions from all security services, to recommend redress and to refer the most serious infringements to the courts.
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