Zimbabwe: Anniversary of new Constitution no cause for celebration
Legislation restricting internationally recognized human rights is still in place in Zimbabwe, one year after the new Constitution was signed into law promising improved civil liberties for all, Amnesty International said today.
“A year ago the people of Zimbabwe were celebrating a new Constitution which promised a much improved Declaration of Rights. Unfortunately, the government has since failed to amend or repeal all the laws rendered unconstitutional and continues to use these laws to repress people exercising their rights in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director of Southern Africa.
Public order, security and criminal laws are being used to deny people their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, despite guarantees under the new Constitution.
Amnesty International has documented numerous cases over the last year where meetings or activities have been barred and human rights defenders have been arrested and charged.
In April alone nearly a dozen demonstrators and community activists were arrested for organizing and taking part in peaceful protests in Masvingo.
Independent journalism is under threat with journalists regularly arrested and charged.
On 28 April, the editor of NewsDay, Nevanji Madanhire, and a reporter of the same paper were charged with contravening the criminal law after publishing allegations of police responsibility following the death of a four-year old who was killed by a minibus fleeing from the police.
On 3 May, police banned a planned World Press Freedom Day march in Harare.
The new Constitution, approved overwhelmingly in a referendum, was signed into law on 22 May 2013 amid great fanfare. It provides for a wide range of human rights under the Declaration of Rights including economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
“The new Constitution offers a blueprint of what Zimbabwe wants to become: a country that protects the rights and freedoms of all citizens under law. A country where the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are respected and journalists and human rights defenders are able to conduct their work without fear of harassment, intimidation or arrest,” said Deprose Muchena.
“A year after it was signed into law, we call on the government to take urgent action to align the country’s laws with the new Constitution and to make the vision a reality.”
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