The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is Zimbabwe’s first post-independence indigenous human rights advocacy group, an association of ordinary people coming together to advance a culture of respect for human rights. ZimRights has adopted the approach to advance a culture of respect for human rights by empowering citizens to monitor human rights violations in their communities. As such, the ZimRights Community Human Rights Monitoring Model is anchored on the coordinated efforts of the ZimRights grassroots structures, linking them with National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).
Pillars of the ZimRights Community Human Rights Monitoring Model
Local Chapter: In every Province, ZimRights has an average of 8 Local Chapters which form the backbone of community organizing. Each Local Chapter has an average of about 8 000 members, depending on the size of the Province. When human rights violations occur in communities, the Local Chapter is the primary bearer of evidence of human rights violations, building community outrage, documenting and exposing the human rights violations.
Regional Chapter: These are represented in the Provincial Council by Local Chapter representatives. ZimRights has established 11 Regional Chapters (representing the 10 Provinces and Chitungwiza). The role of the Regional Chapter is mainly to ensure that human rights issues emerging from the Local Chapters are brought to the attention of regional duty bearers, strengthening community response mechanisms to incidences of human rights violations.
National Action Zone: It is a platform of convergence at national level taking stock of all issues that are documented by the Regional Chapters. The Zone is composed of 22 Action Leaders. These are 11 human rights ambassadors from the 11 Regional Chapters and 11 Regional Chairpersons. Together they gather information and use the organization’s national assets to push for redress of human rights violations.
ZimRights Secretariat: The role of the Secretariat in this model is to provide technical support to community champions such as training and legal support. They will also provide solidarity support and escalating human rights issues to national and international platforms. In addition, ZimRights Secretariat will coordinate the analysis, documentation, reporting and publication of human rights.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs): These are an important part of ZimRights Community Human Rights Monitoring Model. They are state mandated bodies which address the full range of human rights; including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Zimbabwe has established five Independent Commissions (Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Zimbabwe Media Commission) which have been constitutionally mandated in terms of Chapter 12 of the Constitution to promote human rights. With regards to human rights violations these institutions have the role to receive and consider complaints from the public and to take appropriate action in regard to the complaints. The ZimRights community infrastructure uncovers the evidence, reporting human rights violations for investigations to NHRIs, supporting communities who have fallen victim to human rights violations to access remedy.
Implementation Methodology: This involves 11 Regional Chapters, 1 National Action Zone and 2 National Human Rights Institutions (Zimbabwe Human rights Commission- ZHRC and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission – ZGC). ZimRights monitoring role uses the Community Advocacy Cycle (CAC), a tool which enables communities to participate in influencing a positive human rights culture through regular monitoring, documentation, collective remedy and engagement of national human rights mechanisms. The ZHRC and ZGC in partnership with ZimRights train human rights monitors on human rights, gender equality and procedures of lodging a complaint with the ZHRC and the ZGC. Connecting communities to these institutions, ZimRights creates a pathway for communities to report human rights violations which will be investigated by the ZHRC and ZGC. Furthermore, this collaboration is essential in pooling ideas, disseminating knowledge, skills and efforts to address the challenges of human rights violations and in developing solutions towards access to justice, human rights protection, and promotion.
Facilitation: ZimRights Secretariat, ZHRC and ZGC facilitate the trainers’ human rights monitors training workshops across Zimbabwe in phases. The first phase of training’s capacitates ZimRights 11 Regional Chapters and the National Action Zone members. The second phase relates to the trained rolling out training to community members. In turn more phases open up and it becomes a cycle of trainings for human rights activists. Therefore, ZimRights Secretariat, ZHRC and ZGC will take a back sit as communities take charge of their society.
Training Materials: The resource materials for the trainings will be drawn from ZimRights human rights and gender education resources. These include the following:
- Volunteer’s Manual
- Working with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (Community Based Human Rights Advocacy) Trainers’ Manual
- Women’s Handbook on Human Rights and Leadership
Implementation Flow: The model groups the country into the following four clusters:
- Cluster 1 – Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central
- Cluster 2 – Masvingo, Bulawayo and Midlands
- Cluster 3 – Mashonaland West, Harare and Chitungwiza
- Cluster 4 – Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South, Diaspora
Stages of Implementation:
- Community Planning Process – Planning starts at cluster level, bringing together representatives of Regional Chapters to discuss the model and how it would apply to their province. At this planning meeting, each Province identifies its Action Leader who will join the National Action Zone. Ideally, this is a local human rights champion with a legacy of working with victims and who is trusted and dependable. He/she joins the Action Zone together with the Regional Chairperson.
- Training of Human Rights Champions – A training is held in collaboration with the ZHRC and ZGC on the CAC model and human rights monitoring. This training gives the teams the tools and skills necessary for the work.
- Regular Meetings and Monitoring – Each Regional Chapter will proceed to implement the plan developed at the training and making use of the tools. Using the CAC model, regions meet every quarter to review progress.
- Reporting and Redress – A continuous reporting model is adopted allowing cases to be reported to the respective offices and redress to be pursued. Official processes are not a substitute for citizen action.