New Zimbabwe government urged to prioritise human rights

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Zimbabwe's new unified government has been urged to place human rights at the top of its agenda when it takes office this week.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is due to sign into law a constitutional amendment allowing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister on Wednesday, paving the way for the men to share power.

Amnesty International has called on the new administration to follow its five-point human rights plan:

Release prisoners of conscience
The new government should immediately and unconditionally release Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira, and Pascal Gonzo.  It should also either promptly charge all political detainees with recognizable crimes, and ensure a prompt and fair trial for them, or release them immediately.

Provide access for human rights groups
The new government should commit itself to opening up the operational environment for all NGOs and human rights groups, political parties and independent media.

Deal with past human rights violations
The new government should publicly acknowledge all human rights violations by the previous government, commit to establishing the truth, and take effective measures to guarantee non-repetition. 

Address impunity and policing
The new government should immediately end partisan policing and combat impunity for human rights violations by the security forces.

Tackle poverty
The new government should prioritise the full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights including rights to food, health, education and housing.  Where it is unable to meet its minimum core obligations, it should seek international assistance.
"The inauguration of an inclusive government is an important opportunity for the ZANU-PF and the two formations of the MDC to demonstrate to the Zimbabwean people and rest of the world that they are committed to a future where human rights are truly and fully respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled," said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zimbabwe researcher.

The first 100 days of the new administration offers the chance for President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai to take concrete steps to demonstrate the commitment of the new government to human rights.

Amnesty International