Zimbabwe: The 39th FIDH Congress expresses solidarity and support with human rights defenders

Press release

The 39th FIDH Congress, meeting in Johannesburg (Republic of South Africa) from 25 to 27 August 2016, wishes to express its solidarity and its support with human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

Urgent Motion on Zimbabwe

Whereas Zimbabwe persistently invokes vague and broadly-defined “national security” provisions in the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) through giving flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds for barring public demonstrations in order to silence dissent, human rights defenders and ordinary citizens who simply take part in peaceful demonstrations; 

Whereas recent events witnessed in Harare over the past few days and those being witnessed today, the 26th day of August 2016, in the face of a major demonstration by citizens gathering under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) have seen the Police deploy brute force to crush dissent and peaceful demonstrations using water cannons, baton sticks and teargas against unarmed citizens participating in lawful demonstrations.

Whereas civic society leaders such as Promise Mkwanzanzi and Sten Zvorwadza of Tajamuka/Sesjikile social pressure group have either been assaulted brutally or arrested on flimsy charges of public violence under legislation which criminalises freedom of assembly, such as the Criminal Law Code. This was used in relation to the demonstration held Wednesday 24th August 2016, by young Zimbabweans.

Whereas, the police continue to systematically use violence to unlawfully disperse High Court sanctioned demonstrations, with impunity and disregard of the law and human rights; 

Whereas Police are reported to have used live ammunition against the peaceful protestors.

Regrets that Zimbabwe has failed to uphold the civil and political liberties provided for in its very own people-driven Constitution;

Denounces the use of brutal force by the Zimbabwe Republic Police to unlawfully stop Court- sanctioned public demonstrations and the indiscriminate arrest of civic society leaders in Zimbabwe who are leading the peaceful demonstrations against the government; 

Calls upon Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally stop all forms of violence against the citizens who are participating in the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their Constitutional fundamental human rights to demonstrate, associate, assemble and express themselves; 

Denounces the wanton disregard of Court orders by the police as a recipe for the total collapse of the rule of law in the country; 

Calls upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) 36th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting in Mbabane, Swaziland on the 30th – 31st August 201 to insist that Zimbabwe upholds its obligations to respect, fulfill and protect the human rights of its citizens.

Pays tribute to the vibrant and dynamic civil society in Zimbabwe, fighting for the respect of universal Human Rights standards and expresses its gratitude to its co-host Zimrights and its Zimbabwean partners

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