By Leopold Munhende l Chief Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has urged government to publicly share and implement the recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ (ACHPR) 69th session.
In a statement shared by the human rights organisation, related to the proposed promulgation of a Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act, the ZLHR said government should abandon the move in respect of the ACHPR recommendations.
The PVO Bill has been met with resistance from civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights defenders (HRDs), who believe the proposed law will impact basic freedoms and unleash a crackdown on them while stifling democratic space.
“ZHLR urges the government of Zimbabwe to widely disseminate the ‘Concluding Observations and Recommendations’ that were proposed by the ACHPR in the Gambia during the 69th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR. The government of Zimbabwe must adopt the recommendations and fully implement them,” read the statement.
“Whilst acknowledging efforts made by the government, which had submitted the combined reports to fulfil its overdue reporting obligations under the African Charter, the ACHPR noted that there were many areas that still needed to be addressed.
“The ACHPR raised areas of concern and also made numerous key recommendations on the measures needed to strengthen the enjoyment of human rights in Zimbabwe, as guaranteed by the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol as well as other relevant human rights instruments.
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“The ACHPR then proceeded to provide pertinent recommendations to address these challenges.
“ZLHR is perturbed that the government of Zimbabwe introduced the PVO Amendment Bill which if it becomes law, will result in a crackdown against CSOs, HRDs and the closure of civic and democratic space. This law is in violation of the African Charter as well as the ACHPR Guidelines on Freedom of Assembly.”
Zimbabwe’s human rights record has been under scrutiny for the past two decades, with the ruling Zanu PF party being fingered in human atrocities against dissenting individuals and opposing political parties especially.
The just ended 73rd session of the ACHPR heard similar matters, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s head of Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU), Thabani Mpofu disputing all the allegations.
Mpofu went to an extent of disputing documented arrests of journalists as lies and stating no media practitioner had been harassed or arrested since Mnangagwa took over.
Added ZLHR: “ZLHR urges the government of Zimbabwe to expeditiously undertake legislative and policy reforms to comply with its obligations under the ACHPR and the Maputo Protocol and as recommended in the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the ACHPR and fully implement the ACHPR Guidelines on Freedom of Assembly.
“Implement the recommendations on the United Nations Declarations, the Grand Bay and the Kigali Declarations, acknowledge the contributions, importance and rights of HRDs in a constitutional democracy through ensuring that fundamental rights are freely exercised in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“Cease arbitrary arrests, malicious prosecutions and pre-trial detention of HRDs for their lawful human rights work.
“Abandon the PVO Amendment Bill and adopt legislation conducive to a less restrictive and more enabling operating environment for CSOs.”