As Zimbabwe prepares to swear in Emmerson Mnangagwa following the resignation of long time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the ICJ today called on the incoming authorities to immediately act to restore the rule of law and ensure the full observance of human rights in the country.
“As the events of the past few days propel Zimbabwe away from decades of authoritarian rule replete with human rights violations, the incoming administration must side with the people of Zimbabwe and seize this unique opportunity to ground its governance in the rule of law,” said Arnold Tsunga, Director of ICJ’s African Regional Programme.
The ICJ indicated that it is particularly concerned at the intrusion of armed forces in the political process and governance, which is prohibited by the Zimbabwean Constitution and contravenes core rule of law principles concerning the respective functions of the military and civilian authorities.
Emphasizing that the rule of law and respect for the national Constitution remain paramount even as Zimbabweans decide on their future, the ICJ called on the Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA) to refrain from any further activity that intrudes into functions of governances that are within the proper purview of civilian authorities.
“It amounts to setting a dangerous precedent for Zimbabwe and the region to allow or excuse such incursions at the whim of armed forces,” Tsunga added.
Under the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance adopted by African Union Member States, Zimbabwe is required to “institutionalize constitutional civilian control over the armed and security forces to ensure the consolidation of democracy and constitutional order”.
The ICJ further expressed concern at emerging reports of usurpation of police duties by the ZNA, which has allegedly carried out a series of arbitrary arrests and detention of civilians.
“Due process guarantees and fair trial rights are particularly vulnerable when armed forces decide to assume police functions,” Tsunga said.
Recalling that international law does not allow or encourage impunity for serious human rights violations that constitute crimes, such as torture and extra-judicial killings, the ICJ stressed the importance of ensuring accountability for human rights violations as Zimbabwe transits to into a new era of governance.
Arnold Tsunga, ICJ-Director Africa Regional Programme, t: +27716405926, or +254 746 608 859 ; e: arnold.tsunga(a)icj.org
Solomon Ebobrah, Senior Legal Advisor, ICJ Africa Regional Programme, t: +234 8034927549 ; e: Solomon.ebobrah(a)icj.org