Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in commemorating the Africa Human Rights Day. The day is set aside to annually commemorate the coming into force on October 21, 1986, of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights was adopted by the African Union, formerly the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), on 27 June 1981 and entered into force on 21 October 1986, a day which is now being celebrated annually as the Africa Human Rights Day.
The African Charter recognizes the values and principles that are unique to the African continent. Its provisions on Civil and Political Rights, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Peoples’ and Group Rights compel member states such as Zimbabwe to affirm their commitment to the fight against human rights abuses that include torture, abductions and intimidations.
Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights states that,” Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman of degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.”
This year’s Africa Human Rights Day come at a time when Zimbabwe has suffered major setbacks in the promotion and upholding of human rights that are enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. The disappearance of journalist, Itai Dzamara who was abducted early in March this year, is a case in point that exposes gross human rights violations. To date the journalist is still missing and his whereabouts remain unknown.
HZT through its human rights monitors continue to record cases of human rights violations countrywide especially in rural areas. Of particular concern is the recent unacceptable announcement by the First Lady Grace Mugabe that Mashonaland Central should be declared a one party province and that no other political party should be tolerated, is unfortunate as it incites people into committing acts of political violence and reverses peace building efforts being made by various stakeholders in the country. Her announcement also further promotes intolerance, mistrust and political polarisation and should be condemned.
Further the newly set up Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) which has the constitutional mandate of promoting awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels in society, remains underfunded by the Government. The lack of financial support to such Commissions which are seized with the grappling task of promoting human rights that are enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights is hindrance to the fulfilment and enjoyment of the same rights.
Heal Zimbabwe further laments the lack of will on the part of the Government to set up the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) which is a mechanism that can conciliate and mediate disputes among communities for the attainment of peace. Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government to set up the NPRC which has the constitutional mandate of ensuring post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.