Zimbabwe: rule of law must be restored to ensure free and fair elections

Zimbabwe’s new government must urgently restore the rule of law and ensure free and fair elections, said the ICJ at the conclusion of a visit by its Secretary General Sam Zarifi to the country.

After the recent military intervention in Zimbabwe that led to the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe, the government headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to remain in office until new elections, currently scheduled to be held before August 2018.

“The change in leaders in Zimbabwe presents an opportunity to reverse decades of damage to the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country,” said Zarifi, ICJ’s Secretary General.

“As an immediate matter, the new government must take concrete steps that demonstrate it is committed to observing the country’s obligations under international law, as well as the human rights protections of Zimbabwe’s own constitution,” he added.

The ICJ calls on the government of Zimbabwe to:

  • ensure free and fair elections are held as scheduled, and the country’s electoral laws comply with the Constitution and international standards;
  • accelerate measures to ensure compliance of all relevant laws with the country’s constitution and its international legal obligations;
  • ensure the independence of the judiciary and the legal system;
  • ensure all those arrested and detained during the military intervention are identified and brought immediately before an independent and impartial tribunal, and, where charged with recognized crimes, are given fair trials;
  • investigate all allegations of unlawful deaths, torture or ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrest and detention;
  • ensure the military acts within strict legal bounds, operates under civilian control, and does not engage in arrest and detention of civilians;
  • ensure all security forces, including the police and the military, are subject to accountability and receive proper and adequate training in performing their duties in conformity with international human rights standards; and
  • provide credible mechanisms to combat corruption in all branches of government, and ensure that anti-corruption efforts are not politicized.

“Zimbabwe’s military has played a central role in the country’s affairs for decades, while civilian institutions have suffered under intense political pressure, at great cost to the people of the country,” Zarifi said.

“Zimbabwe should grasp this opportunity to demonstrate that it can and will strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights in order to improve the lives of all people in the country.”


Arnold Tsunga, ICJ-Director: Africa Regional Programme, t: +27716405926, e: arnold.tsunga(a)icj.org


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