New Zim Rights Body Will Not Delve Into The Past

“The commission is  going to carry  out  investigations and  then when it arrives at a  decision  that there  is human rights  violations they  have the  first  option  to apply  to the  High Court  for the enforcement  of that decision. They can also write a report to the Head of State that ‘may’ enforce their decision.

“This  commission when operational will  not  have powers  to investigate alleged human rights  violations  that happened before the enactment of the amendment number 19, unless such violations  have continued after the amendment 19. Anything  that  happened before
that  period, it  has no powers  to  investigate,“ he told  journalists in Harare  on Monday.

The eight member Human Rights Commission, which was sworn in March is chaired by Professor Reg Austin, a lawyer, former Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe and former head of Commonwealth Secretariat’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Division.

Professor Austin has been under pressure from Human rights groups who have been demanding that it should investigate all human rights violations back dating from the early 1980s.

These human rights watchdogs say the Human rights commission should be given powers to try and convict anyone found guilty of human rights violations, which occurred in the country over the past 30 years.

People  from Matabeleland are  also demanding that Zanu (PF) senior officials  who spearheaded  the Gukurahundi atrocities which lead  to the  death of thousands  of the  Ndebele tribe, should be investigated.

Victims  of the June 27 bloody presidential runoff elections are calling  for  the  much awaited  Human rights Commission to bring to book Zanu (PF) militia and  state  security agents  who  butchered  their families and friends in 2008.

Chinamasa said his office had finished working on the draft Human rights bill which will be tabled before parliament for endorsement when it re-opens in October.

According to the Global Political Agreement signed between the two MDC formations and Zanu (PF) to form the inclusive government, the Human rights Commission will be responsible for the promotion and creation of awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society.

It should also recommend to Parliament effective measures to promote human rights and freedoms and investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the rights in the Declaration of Rights has been violated by that authority or person.