By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Farai Maguwu, an environmental rights activist, has urged human rights lawyers to do more work to defend environmental and socio-economic rights.
“Our human rights lawyers have done a splendid job in defending civil and political rights—victims of political violence.
“What is now lacking in our human rights approach is addressing the environmental, socio-economic rights violations which are by far killing more Zimbabweans than political violence,” said Maguwu in a statement.
He accused human rights lawyers of neglecting people accused of trespassing onto mines on the basis that they would have violated the law.
“I have raised these issues with some of my lawyer friends in the human rights field who argue that the law is the law but I think an unjust law is not a law at all,” he added.
Over the years, mining security personnel have been reported to illegally detain, set dogs on, torture and even kill villagers who would have been caught on mining fields in the Marange area.
These villagers are mostly artisanal miners.
“It’s high time our mining laws liberalized but for this to happen, we need some brave and progressive human rights lawyers who can challenge the constitutionality of the Mines and Minerals Act which criminalises artisanal mining,” said Maguwu.
Section 24 of the constitution provides that the State and other government institutions must adopt reasonable policies and measures to give citizens the opportunity to work in a freely chosen activity so as to earn a decent living.
The constitution stipulates that there must be “the removal of restrictions that unnecessarily inhibit or prevent people from working and otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities”.
“For these benefits to be enjoyed, we need human rights lawyers to challenge the status quo so that justice is served for the majority,” added Maguwu. Nehanda Radio