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Democracy central to human rights observance, Sustainable Development – ZimRights

PRESS STATEMENT – The Zimbabwe Human Rights Associations (ZimRights) joins all Zimbabweans and the world in commemorating the International Day of Democracy on September 15 under the theme, “Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Activist Patson Dzamara holds an injured protester in Harare
Activist Patson Dzamara holds an injured protester in Harare

The Day is crucial as it reminds Zimbabweans of the crosscutting thread linking democracy, human rights and sustainable development. The connection between these principles has been established through international frameworks and the people-driven Constitution of Zimbabwe, and should inform the governance culture in the country.

The United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1945 in Article 21(3) establishes democracy as the basis of good governance. The UN Commission on Human Rights’ resolution 2000/64 establishes a human rights-based approach to governance as critical to sustainable development.

In light of this important framework, ZimRights emphasises that transitioning to democracy in Zimbabwe is critical to the attainment of human rights and the development goals of the country. Equally development is supposed to guarantee human rights protection through availing crucial social services.

There are many recent developments in Zimbabwe that have been showing an inclination by the authorities to limit the fundamental human rights that are central to the attainment of democracy and sustainable development in the country.

As a result of police brutality and indiscriminate use of force during recent citizen protests, many human rights have been grossly violated and include the right to peacefully demonstrate and petition, freedom of the media, the freedoms of assembly and association, and the freedom from degrading and inhuman treatment.

Police details used teargas, physical violence and water cannons indiscriminately against citizens including children and elderly people and resorted to summary arrests during the citizen demonstrations in August in Harare. ZimRights realises that the deficits of democracy in many cases contribute the biggest chunk to the human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

ZimRights is concerned with the continued abduction of political and human rights activists, while some have been found tortured, Itai Dzamara remains unaccounted for after his abduction on March 9, 2015.

Hence, ZimRights calls for reforms that will ensure the broader and unfettered citizen participation in governance matters and recognition of the will of the people which are central to democratic governance.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underscores the importance of justice and strong institutions towards peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and should be achieved through provision of access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

It is in this light that ZimRights reiterates its opposition to President Robert Mugabe’s recent denigration of constitutional institutions of accountability, human rights protection, good governance and justice promotion such as the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

Such attacks on independent institutions negate the principles of democratic governance and accountability by the political leaders which are important for sustainable development.