Zimbabwe: end violence, restore the rule of law and respect for human rights

The ICJ condemns in the strongest terms the violence that erupted in Zimbabwe after the elections, and calls for the restoration of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

At least 3 people are reported to have died in Harare on 1 August as a result of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ (ZDF) use of live ammunition “to disperse” unarmed protestors in Harare’s Central Business District.

Members of the ZDF are reported to have fired live bullets against the fleeing crowd, and assaulted people indiscriminately, resulting in injuries and loss of life.

While the ICJ does not condone acts of violence carried out by protesters and party supporters, it strongly condemns the intentional use of lethal force and other actions of the ZDF, which were disproportionate and unnecessary in the circumstances.

According to the ICJ, the unrest could have been contained in a manner consistent with Zimbabwe’s international human rights law obligations, which, in turn, could have avoided loss of lives and injuries to protesters and bystanders.

“The use of lethal force on unarmed protesters must never be condoned,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ Secretary General.

“The intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” he added.

The ICJ reminds the authorities in Zimbabwe of their commitment to rule of law, constitutionalism and protection of human rights as provided for under the Constitution and relevant international human rights law and standards.

The ICJ calls on them to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights during this post-election period.

The ICJ urges the responsible authorities to hold to account members of the ZDF responsible for the loss of life and limb during the protests on 1 August.


Arnold Tsunga, Director of the Africa Regional Programme, International Commission of Jurists C: +263 77 728 3248, E: arnold.tsunga(a)icj.org

Background information

Protests erupted in the morning of 1 August 1 2018 during the announcement of the results for the National Assembly following “the Harmonised Elections” held on 30 of July 2018.

It is alleged by authorities that protesters were damaging property during the protest.

Media reports published later in the day indicate that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) invoked section 37(1) of the Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11 :17], which allows the Minister of Home Affairs upon request by the Commissioner General of Police to seek assistance from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to quell civil commotion in any district and for the ZDF to assist.

The Zimbabwean Constitution recognizes and protects the rights of citizens to freely and peacefully demonstrate and petition.

It also guarantees the freedom of assembly and association.

Although section 86 of the Constitution makes clear the non-absolute nature of these rights, Zimbabwean authorities must be reminded that any limitations must be in terms of a law of general application and must be fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom.

Citizens of Zimbabwe are also reminded of these constitutional provisions and encouraged to exercise their rights within the confines of the law.

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