Harare, Oct.1 (DP.net).– The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Clement Voule, ended his 10-day visit to Zimbabwe on September 27, 2019, and issued a statement calling for the government to do more to reduce the recent series of attacks on civil society activists and to encourage dialog between political leaders and activists. Voule’s trip was the first official visit by a UN human rights expert to Zimbabwe, providing a unique opportunity for international engagement in a long closed-off country.
Voule urged the government to do more to investigate and prevent abuses committed by government forces. He remarked that “to foster impunity is to foster distrust among the population, alienating them from the government, and quashing their hopes of meaningful change in the future.”
Three days before Voule’s arrival, Dr. Peter Magombeyi, the leader of an ongoing strike by Zimbabwe’s union of doctors and nurses, was abducted by what Douglas Coltart of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights believes were government affiliated forces. During Voule’s visit, Dr. Magombeyi was released, but since he had been poisoned during this capture he needed to be flown out of the country for medical treatment, thus preventing him from participating in the Rapporteur’s visit. Voule noted the seriousness of this incident and other issues in his report:
End of Mission Statement of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, on his visit to Zimbabwe (17-27 September 2019)
Harare, 27 September 2019
Members of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen,
In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, I conclude today the first official visit carried by a United Nations Special Procedures mandate holder in the country, which took place from 17 to 27 September 2019.
As a Special Rapporteur, my views are independent.. I present reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. The overarching purpose of my visit to Zimbabwe is to contribute to the efforts it has undertaken in its path towards democratization and to offer recommendations as to how Zimbabwe can better respect, promote, protect and implement international human rights law and standards as they apply to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
[ Read full report ]