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Why Africa won’t uphold Human Rights

Watmore Makokoba
Human rights organisations say it is difficult to expect Africa to adopt a positive paradigm shift towards upholding of human rights.
Amnesty International regional director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said failure by Parliamentarians, particularly in Zimbabwe, sets a very bad example why it is difficult to create an Africa where fundamental human rights are upheld.
“The Zimbabwean Parliament has failed to realign laws with the constitution adopted in 2013; the authorities continue to use oppressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to suppress dissent and against journalists.
“Since last year, they have ramped up a clampdown against human rights defenders, suppressed peaceful public protests and in some cases prohibited public meetings. Police are regularly deployed to forcefully break up peaceful protests,” he said.
Concurring with Amnesty International, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said the exclusion of the youths, the deliberate slow pace in ratification of the Human Rights Charter and lack of political will is a major hindrance in the effective upholding of human rights.
“Human rights violations continue to be rampant and rife in Africa because of lack of political will to implement the Charter, including in Zimbabwe.
“It is sad to note that in most cases it is the States, who adopted the Charter who are at the forefront of perpetrating human rights violations more than non-State actors.
“The youth play a crucial part in the development and the struggle for human rights and ZimRights calls for genuine youth empowerment, which gives young people opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.
“It is also sad to note that ZHRC which came into being through an Act of Parliament is not yet adequately capacitated and its operations are still centralized leading to many people failing to access it,” ZimRights said.
The concern by human rights organisations comes at a time when the continent is still reflecting on the recent African Human Rights Day, celebrated every 21st of October.
The 2017 edition of Africa Human Rights day was commemorated under the theme “Enhancing Youth Contribution – Towards Effective Implementation of the Action Plan of the Human and People’s Rights Decade in Africa.”
Zimbabwe which has soiled record when it comes to upholding human rights is also accused of deliberately ignoring the recommendations made by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) on its record.
ACHPR is a product of the Human Rights Charter.
Despite it checkered human rights record, Zimbabwe has the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission which was created through Section 242 of the new constitution.
The commission also operates under an Act of Parliament the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act of Chapter 10:30 (2/2012)
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has since implored South Africa, currently chairing Southern African Development Community (SADC) to use its tenure to put a stop to the downward spiral in human rights in the region.
Africa Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in 1986 and is an apt reminder of the commitments that governments on the continent have made towards respecting human rights.

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