Zimbabwe: The African Union should denounce serious human rights violations

Zimrights / FIDH

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its affiliate in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) condemn strongly the large-scale forced evictions and repression under "Operation Restore Order", conducted by Zimbabwean government, under the pretext of "cleaning up the country", for the past three weeks.

It is reported that more than 200,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their allegedly illegal homes in a violent crackdown on shanty towns throughout the country. It is also reported that evictions have been carried out unlawfully and with excessive force. This operation has resulted in the loss of livelihoods for hundreds of thousands who are already face a deep economic crisis and food shortage. Furthermore, more than 24,000 people have been arbitrarely arrested during the operation.

These actions constitute blatant violations of several human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which prohibits forced evictions (Article 11), and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights. The FIDH and Zimrights consider that this operation amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment which is prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In that respect, the FIDH and Zimrights are concerned about the decision of the High court of Zimbabwe ruling that the evictions were justified by the fact that the residents had breached their lease agreements and had failed to construct structures with City Council approval. Regrettably, the Court did not adress the fulfillement of the requirements of a spoliation order. This decision has now given judicial permission to the patently illegal conduct of the government by refusing to offer judicial protection to the victims of the forced evictions. Both organisations are therefore supporting the appeal lodged with the Supreme Court by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights notably raising the violation of rights as protected in the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The FIDH and Zimrights have been denouncing for years the repression of political opponents and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, as well as violations of economic and social rights directly resulting from the Zimbabwean government's policies.

The FIDH and Zimrights welcome the declaration of the Special Rapporteur on Housing Rights of June 3, as well as the Declaration of the European Union on June 6, 2005 condemning the actions undertaken by the Zimbabwean government.

Furthermore, the FIDH and Zimrights call on the African Union to condemn the Human Rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe and urge the Zimbabwean government to immediately halt the unlawful arrests and destruction and to provide assistance and legal protection to those displaced.

The FIDH and Zimrights are calling on the African Commission on Human and People's Rights not to hold its upcoming session in Zimbabwe.