State Brutality Endangering Peace – Rights Groups On World Peace Day

By Mlondolozi Ndlovu                                                    

Harare, September 21, 2016 – THE current economic and political turmoil, coupled with state brutality against ordinary citizens is a hindrance to the full enjoyment of peace, rights groups have said.

This they said in separate statements to mark the International World Peace Day being celebrated every 21 September.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said continued salary delays by government created uncertainty among some families.

“Most families are struggling to put food on the table for a plethora of reasons; among them not knowing when the next salaries and pensions will be paid and whether or not banks have money to pay out,” ZPP said.

“The discordant messages that people get from authorities also compound the challenges that citizens continue to face thus denying them the enjoyment of peace.”

The group, which documents political violation cases in the country, said families of state brutality victims were also being traumatised by the acts.

“The families of those who are and some who have been victims of enforced disappearance continue to struggle with enjoying peace as they do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones and cannot come to terms with their loved ones having experienced such a heinous crime which is a crime against humanity,” they added.

“A few families come to mind; Paul Chizuze, Itai Dzamara and most recently Silvanos Mudzvova who was abducted at gun point, tortured and left for dead.

“In order to build bridges to peace in this regard, the government of Zimbabwe is implored to outlaw enforced disappearances and commit to signing the Convention Against Torture,” said the rights group.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) noted that it was saddening that as the country marked the world peace day, citizens were still experiencing rampant rights violations in the hands of the state.

“Regrettably this year, international day of peace is observed at a time when there is a rapid erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms. Since January 2016, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, arbitrary arrests and malicious prosecutions have continued unabated,” said ZLHR.

The lawyers group also cited continued harassment on rights defenders by the state and the destruction of property which has been witnessed in the previous weeks as protests escalate in the country.

“ZLHR unreservedly condemns the violent attacks on ordinary citizens and HRDs, the destruction of property during protests,” said the group.

“All citizen-state and non-state actors- have the duty to respect, promote and protect all human rights provisions in the constitution, as well as other human rights instruments at the African Union and the United Nations level that Zimbabwe has ratified.”

They urged the government to allow the operationalisation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to allow the healing process to commence.

ZimRights, another rights group, said the country’s myriad problems remained a threat to peace.

“The country is facing significant threats to peace, constant protests and human rights violations by the police against citizens which should make all stakeholders reflect on the need to stem the escalating tide of conflict that has swept Zimbabwe since June 2016,” ZimRights said.

“ZimRights notes that the increasing levels of poverty and economic collapse, suppression of democratic means of expression available to citizens, lack of electoral reforms and police brutality during peaceful marchers present formidable challenges to peace in Zimbabwe.

“The absence of the National Peace and Reconciliation commission is keenly felt during the current social tensions and hence ZimRights reiterates the need for operationalisation of the Independent constitutional commission to carry out its mandate of promoting peace in Zimbabwe.”

They also urged the government to allow for the independence of state institutions.