The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has raised alarm at the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe, particularly the arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists and women human rights defenders.
The ACHPR raised its concerns following its 66th Ordinary Session held virtually between 13 July and 7 August 2020.
Among other issues, the ACHPR through Resolution 443 on the Human Rights Situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe, condemned reports of human rights violations in Zimbabwe, including violations of rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The Commission called on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that measures taken by its law enforcement agents do not lead to violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, including expression, association and assembly.
The ACHPR also called on the government to guarantee the protection of the rights of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, healthcare workers and other peaceful protestors, including from arbitrary arrest and detention.
The ACHPR is tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective (peoples’) rights in Africa. Zimbabwe is a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Meanwhile, in its submissions to the ACHPR Ordinary Session, on 20 July 2020, MISA Zimbabwe raised concern at the increasing number of attacks on media workers and the deteriorating safety and security environment for journalists.
Since the beginning of the implementation of the COVID-19 regulations on 30 March 2020, MISA Zimbabwe has recorded at least 30 media violations, including the arrest of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and the raid on the home of ZimLive editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu.
MISA Zimbabwe also raised concern with the government’s determination to amend the Constitution as opposed to aligning existing laws with relevant constitutional provisions.
MISA Zimbabwe called on the ACHPR to urge the government of Zimbabwe to:
- Take all measures necessary to guarantee the safety and security of journalists.
- Take a stand on the quality of law reforms and liberalisation of broadcasting that are guided by regional best practices.
- Ensure that the cybersecurity regulation is informed by the revised principles of the ACHPR Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information which recognises the internet as a right.
- Take a stand against the ongoing process by the ruling party of mutilating the Constitution, and that Zimbabwe should focus on aligning the repressive laws with the expansive Bill of Rights.