Heal Zimbabwe Statement on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

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Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The special day is commemorated annually on the 30th of August. The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was passed under resolution 65/209 on 21 December 2010 which expressed great concern on the rising cases of involuntary disappearances. This culminated into the adoption of the International Convention for the protection of all Persons of Enforced Disappearances where 30 August was declared as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

In his message on this year’s commemorations, United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance for member states to implement the provisions of the International Convention for the protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006. “On this international day, I urge all member states to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay, and I call on the States parties to the Convention to implement it… It is time for an end to all enforced disappearances”, he said.

For Zimbabwe, this year’s commemorations come against a background where abductions are still taking place 36 years after independence from colonial rule.  Pro Democracy activist,  Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 march 2015, remains a clear example especially given that his whereabouts remain unknown to this day. On 27 August 2016, around 1am, Kerina Gweshe Dewah, the MDC-T Harare Provincial Vice Chairperson, was also abducted by 18 unknown armed men from her Glen View home. The family of Dewah searched for her at more than 10 police stations but to no avail only for her to then appear at Rotten Row Court facing trumped up charges of inciting political  violence. On Friday 26 August 2016, Gift Ostallos Siziba a human rights activist was also abducted during the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) demonstration in Harare. After Siziba was abducted, he was taken to ZANU PF headquarters where he was subjected to brutal assaults to the extent that his left hand is now barely functional and his right hand swollen.

The occasion of this year’s commemoration of the Day in Zimbabwe offers an opportunity for the Government to expedite the search for Missing persons particularly Itai Dzamara whose search was ordered by the High Court. Abductions remain a gross human rights violation that must be condemned as it is not only degrading but barbaric and a bad practice. The increase in abduction cases highlights the Government’s insincerity over ensuring that citizens are protected against involuntary abductions.

Enforced disappearance remain a serious violation of human rights and a crime. Section 53 of the Constitution provides for Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such fundamental human rights and freedoms are to be enjoyed by every citizen without selective application.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government to stop using abductions as a tool to deal with political opponents. In light of the growing discontent in the country evidenced by the persistent protests taking place countrywide, HZT has activated its 24 hour early warning and early response mechanism to human rights violations and will be responding accordingly. For any cases of human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, abductions etc feel free to contact us on the following numbers: +263 779 449 071 and +263 777 462 931.

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