HRC50: Zimbabwe must implement recommendations on defenders and civic space

Since its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Zimbabwe’s human rights situation has greatly deteriorated. The country must urgently implement recommendations on defenders and civic space.

On 1 July 2022, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi,  presented the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review. Out of the 264 recommendations the government received, it only accepted 168. While several States and NGOs congratulated Zimbabwe on the efforts made to implement measures to improve its education system as well as the rights of people with disabilities in the country, challenges remain when it comes to the enjoyment of freedom of assembly as well as the protection of civic space and human rights defenders. 

In a joint statement, ISHR and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights raised our concerns over the shrinking civic and democratic space in the country. Indeed, NGOs and civil society are often denied their rights to peaceful assembly and protest. Moreover, human rights defenders are frequently subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, ill-treatment in custody, and lengthy and abusive sentences.

To improve this situation, ISHR recommends that Zimbabwe: 

  • Cease restrictions on peaceful protests and assemblies
  • Repeal restrictive criminal provisions violating freedom of expression, assembly and association
  • Cease issuing denigrating and threatening statements against human rights defenders, NGOs and victims of rights violations
  • Abandon or amend the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill 2021 to protect civic space

In addition, several civil society organisations urge Zimbabwe to implement all the recommendations that they received concerning the rights of LGBTQI+ persons. Indeed, the government only accepted 2 out of 12 of those recommendations, which shows a certain lack of political will in that regard. 

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