Today, the ICJ, Media Institute for Southern Africa- Zimbabwe Chapter, and veritas called, before the UN Human Rights Council, on Zimbabwe to respect human rights and the rule of law to adhere to its UPR commitments.
The joint statement reads as follows:
Zimbabwe has frequently suppressed of the right of public participation in elections, including by refusing to permit NGOs to engage in voter education efforts and denying the vote to Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
The ICJ and partner organisations MISA and veritas, therefore welcome the acceptance by Zimbabwe of the recommendation by Australia to take all necessary steps to ensure free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023 (139.65).
We further welcome Zimbabwe’s acceptance of Uruguay’s recommendation to take measures to ensure that journalists and human rights defenders can carry out their work in an enabling environment, without fear of intimidation or reprisal (140.80).
However, to implement it, the authorities must immediately stop the attacks and recriminations on journalists and HRDs that have increased in recent years. We note that, despite a ruling by a high court judge Zimbabwe has failed to establish an independent complaints mechanism to keep the conduct of security forces in check.
We deplore Zimbabwe’s refusal to accept Ireland’s recommendation that amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act allow civil society to operate independently. (140.83). Proposed amendments provide government with wide powers to interfere with CSOs governance and activities. In addition, the Bill allows government to ban CSOs from ‘engaging in political activities’ which may include legitimate human rights activities.
To implement these recommendations the ICJ, MISA and veritas call on Zimbabwe to:
- Ensure that human rights organizations, journalists, and HRDs can operate without fears of reprisals.
- Ensure that the Private Voluntary Organisations Act does not infringe on civic space including the rights of expression, assembly, and association.
- Take concrete steps to guarantee free, credible, transparent, and fair elections in 2023.
I thank you.”
Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949AdvocacyNon-legal submissions