Press Statement on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins the world, the local human rights community and Zimbabweans in commemorating International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances marked on 30 August each year.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance states that an enforced disappearance, which is a crime against humanity, occurs when:
“persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
ZimRights notes with concern the growing frequency of enforced disappearances. There are many people that have not been accounted for among them Itai Dzamara from 2015, despite a high court order to the police to search for him, Patrick Nabanyana in 2000 and many others. ZimRights notes with concern that enforced disappearances are used as a tool to deal with dissent and create fear in communities.
The world commemorates this years’ occasion amidst an increase in the number of enforced disappearances since the “new dispensation” came into power. Recently Tawanda Muchehiwa, Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, have been victims of enforced disappearances.
What is worrisome is the lack of political will by the government to ratify key conventions that obligates the state to prevent enforced disappearances. ZimRights calls on the government of Zimbabwe to put an end to the pervasive culture of enforced disappearance through;
- Respecting the constitution of Zimbabwe which, under chapter 4, speaks to the safeguarding of fundamental human rights as well as Section 206 of the Constitution which obliges Zimbabwe’s security services to act with utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution.
- Ratifying the United Nations Conventions Against Torture or Inhuman Treatment as well as the International Convention for The Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances among other progressive conventions.
- Thorough investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of enforced disappearances.
- A legal framework must be put in place to ensure adequate compensation and rehabilitation for the victims and families of enforced disappearances
Issued by the ZimRights Information Department