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UN Special Rapporteur to visit Zimbabwe next month

The new Zim dollar note and coins are being introduced to deal with a cash shortage in Zimbabwe.
The new Zim dollar note and coins are being introduced to deal with a cash shortage in Zimbabwe.
Image: 123RF / Natanael Alfredo Nemanita Ginting

The UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights is expected to visit Zimbabwe in three weeks' time.

The special envoy led by Belarusian Alena Douhan will undertake an official visit to the country from October 18 to 28.  

“The Special Rapporteur and her team will collect information and hold a series of meetings with government authorities, civil society organisations, the private sector and the opposition,” the UN said in a statement.

Thereafter, a public report will be presented at the UN Human Rights Council during its 51st session in September 2022 – just less than a year before Zimbabwe’s 2023 general elections.

The UN said the Special Rapporteur would also meet foreign embassies stationed in Zimbabwe, most of which according to the government of Zimbabwe are “regime change agents”.

The UN has called on all stakeholders in the Zimbabwe crisis to submit papers on human rights violations and the effects of targeted and economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the US and EU in all spheres of human existence.

Last week in his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe because they “paralyse Zimbabwe and its economy”.  His Botswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi echoed the call.

The latest report by the US embassy in Harare on Zimbabwe’s human rights notes the following significant human rights issues:

  • unlawful or arbitrary killings of civilians by security forces;
  • torture and arbitrary detention by security forces;
  • cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • harsh and life-threatening prison conditions;
  • political prisoners or detainees;
  • arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy;
  • serious problems with the independence of the judiciary;
  • serious government restrictions on free expression, press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking, and the existence of criminal libel laws;
  • substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association;
  • restrictions on freedom of movement;
  • restrictions on political participation;
  • widespread acts of corruption;
  • lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women;
  • crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting women and girls; and
  • the existence of laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, though not enforced.

The embassy charged the government “took very few steps to identify or investigate” human rights violations.

It called on the government last week to conduct by-elections for vacant council and parliamentary seats. But the ruling Zanu-PF's director of information Tafadzwa Mugadi warned the embassy that Harare would go the “Taliban way” to address the issue of elections in the country.