The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated on 10 December annually.
This year marks the the 72nd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the Declaration) which has come to be a universal guide on the respect, protection, and promotion of human rights.
Zimbabwe embraced the provisions of the declaration like many other countries.
This year, the International Human Rights Day is being commemorated under the theme ‘’Recover Better- Stand Up For Human Rights’’ and the theme relates to the Covid -19 pandemic and focuses on the need to curb the spread of the virus.
In a statement, NTJWG said the national security forces failed to honor human rights during the lockdown.
“Regrettably there was a marked increase in cases of human rights violations which were perpetrated by the police and soldiers who were on the national lock down enforcement duties.
“The violations include abductions and torture, extrajudicial killings, assaults on citizens by law enforcement officers, attacks on journalist, unlawful arrests and gunshots. It shows that while the legal frame work for the respect, promotions, and protection of human rights exists in Zimbabwe, national security forces repeatedly fail to abide and fully implement it.” The statement read.
According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, at least 920 human rights violations were recorded between 30 March and 18 September 2020.
By commemorating the International Human Rights Day, the NTJWG calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to embrace tenets and spirit of Declaration and fully respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all its citizens in accordance to the constitution.
“The continued recurrence of human rights in Zimbabwe breeds a culture of impunity that undermines efforts to facilitate national peace and reconciliation in the country.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with failing economy resulting in an untenable situation for most Zimbabweans who are living under extreme poverty and face the risk of starvation. The period has also been characterised by severe water shortages which led to several deaths after people in communities resorted to using unsafe sources of water.” They said.
NTJWG said everyone who violated human rights during the national lockdown should be held accountable. They said the government should address causes of conflict and educate the nation on their human rights.
“In particular it is for public institutions to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violation during the national lock down are held accountable for their actions and justice is served for survivors of the violations and their families,
“The NTJWG calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to work together with local authorities to ensure progressive realization of socio-economic rights of the people of Zimbabwe, noting that that the continued violation of these rights is a potential cause of conflict that must be addressed urgently.
“It is important for that government of Zimbabwe to proactively find ways to address potential causes of conflict to ensure sustainable peace in the country as the nation grapples with how to recover from devastating effects of its violent past and ongoing covid-19 pandemic.” The statement further read.