Thursday, May 14, 2009

African Commission urged to undertake fact finding mission to Zimbabwe


The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) has been urged to constitute a fact finding mission to visit and assess the situation in Zimbabwe.

In a statement to the 45th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR on 13 May 2009 in the Gambian capital of Banjul, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Hannah Forster said the fact finding mission should comprise the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression, Rights of Women, and Refugees as well as the Chairman of the Working Group on Torture.

The statement was delivered by the ACHDRS’s executive director on behalf of participants to the NGO Forum which preceded the ACHPR’s 45th Ordinary Session.

The Banjul Ngo Forum, however, welcomed the formation of the unity government and the ensuing efforts to return to normalcy in both Zimbabwe and Kenya, but noted that respect for freedom of the press continued to be a challenge in Africa with the constant formulation of draconian laws, harassment, intimidation, killings and arbitrary detention particularly in countries such as Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

“We urge the Special Rapportuer for Freedom of Expression in Africa to investigate the discrimination of the media, the existence of redundant laws, especially electoral laws in the aforementioned countries,” said Forster.

She noted that the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) was cause for concern in Africa with reports of harassment, intimidation and arrests of HRDs in the wake of the existence of restrictive laws curtailing freedom of association and freedom of expression in some African countries.

“The Forum requests the African Commission to urge the African Union to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to live up to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and to implement the recommendations contained in the African Commission’s (2002) fact finding report to Zimbabwe as well as recommendations of the United Nations Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues pertaining to the provision of aid and protection to the victims of the forced evictions and demolitions,” she said.//End//

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