ZLHR: Zim govt contributing to the continent’s displaced populations

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWE’S poor human rights record continues to contribute to the increasing population of Internally Displaced People (IDP) on the continent, a top lawyers group has said.

In a statement to mark Africa Day Saturday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) attributed the high number of forced displacements to the country’s well-documented human rights record, governance and democracy deficits.

“This Africa Day is being marked after the disastrous effects of Cyclone Idai, which ravaged some parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi and which left a trail of massive destruction including loss of lives, destruction of property, injuries and displacement of people among other vulnerabilities.

“It is worrying that despite the adoption of a ‘new’ Constitution which guarantees freedom from arbitrary eviction, people across the country continue to be evicted and to be displaced from their homes with government agencies.”

The prominent lawyers group, which has stood firmly in defence of a lot of Zimbabweans often dragged to court by the state over alleged political violations, said “the manner in which the majority of evictions and displacements have been executed is grossly and unjustifiably inhumane”.

ZLHR said this “amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens in contravention of the Constitution and international and regional instruments to which Zimbabwe is a state party”.

“Government should realise that forced evictions and displacement of people are a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing,” said the lawyers’ group.

“In addition, forced evictions and homelessness intensify social conflict and inequality and invariably affect the disadvantaged people, most socially, economically, environmentally and politically disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society.”

ZLHR urged government to ensure the protection of IDPs and other vulnerable groups and take appropriate means to protect the rights provided in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to the African Union, there are an estimated 14.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Human rights violations, civil strife, violent conflicts, persecution, governance and democracy deficits, impunity, natural disasters, effects of drought and climate change have contributed to this displacement.