Zim makes progress in human rights reforms

ZIMBABWE has made tremendous progress in the implementation of various reforms that seek to strengthen and protect citizens’ rights.

On Wednesday the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group reviewed the country’s human rights record with most of the UN member states, commending Zimbabwe’s efforts and calling for the unconditional removal of economic sanctions.

The UPR is a unique process that involves a periodic review of human rights records of all 193 UN member states. Since its first meeting in April 2008, all member states have been reviewed twice within the first and second cycles.

Zimbabwe is being reviewed for the third time following the first and second reviews, which were carried out in October 2011 and November 2016, respectively.

Countries that include Sweden, Switzerland, South Sudan, Tanzania, Palestine, China, Togo, among others commended measures taken by the Government to protect women’s rights, children’s rights and efforts to align the country’s laws to the Constitution.

Presenting the national report in Geneva, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi said out of the 260 recommendations received during the second cycle review, Zimbabwe had accepted 151 in full and six in part while noting 86.

“My Government remains committed to compliance with international human rights obligations arising from the various regional and international treaties to which Zimbabwe is a party. Zimbabwe is up to date with its obligations under various treaties,” he said.

Minister Ziyambi said the country was committed to co-operating with human rights mechanisms and other relevant stakeholders.

He said since the last review, significant progress has been made in aligning laws to the constitution with 176 pieces of legislation successfully aligned, out of the 206 requiring alignment. Work continues on the remaining 30.

“Statutes affecting fundamental human rights have been accorded priority. To advance and promote the realisation of socio and economic and cultural rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, my Government launched Vision 2030, a new development trajectory aimed at attaining upper middle-income status by the year 2030,” he added.

The Minister said the country had also made progress in ensuring universal access to health for all citizens through the adoption of the National Health Strategy 2016-2020 aimed at achieving equity and quality in health.

As a result, the budgetary allocation to the health sector has been gradually increasing, and at 13 percent of the total 2022 National Budget, is nearing the 15 percent Abuja Agreement threshold.

“My government also remains committed to the protection and promotion of child rights, including the curbing of child marriages. To give effect to the children rights enshrined in our Constitution and other international human rights instruments, we are at an advanced stage of enacting the Children’s Amendment Act, Marriages Act, and the Child Justice Act to strengthen the legislative framework for the promotion and protection of child rights including criminalisation of child marriages. My

Government has taken steps to ensure that children are protected online through the establishment of the Zimbabwe Child Online Protection committee,” he said.

Minister Ziyambi said despite robust and re-engagement efforts by the Government, the illegal, unilateral, and cohesive measures imposed by some western countries remained in place and their effects were affecting the enjoyment of socio-economic rights by the people of Zimbabwe.

In response to questions by some countries on the independence of the country’s judiciary, the minister said the Constitution was clear on judicial independence and the government respected that.

“The Republic of Zimbabwe respects judicial independence and has put in place all facets to promote and safeguard judicial independence. The constitution provides for an independent judicial service commission that has both financial and social independence.

“On the allegation that the Government was exerting influence on the judiciary to weaken opposition political parties by allowing the recall of their elected members of parliament and councillors, there is no basis for such a concern. The process of recalling MPs and councillors was initiated by the opposition parties themselves when they approached the courts for a ruling on their internal disputes. The executive branch of Government did not interfere in any way in those processes. Our Constitution provides for the clear separation of powers between the three arms of the state,” he said.

The UPR working group is expected to adopt recommendations made to Zimbabwe today.Herald.

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