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Public Outcry as Rights Commission Chair Resigns

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has urged the inclusive government to quickly address the poorly-equipped Human Rights Commission and take seriously issues raised by outgoing chairman Reginald Austin who resigned in protest last Friday.

Professor Austin, a world renowned human rights defender, resigned citing the commission’s lack of independence, among several other reasons.

The commission which was formed in 2009 but only gained constitutional status this year after almost three years of bickering between the political parties in government, still has “no budget, no accommodation, no mobility, no staff and no implementing act or corporate legal status,” according to Austin’s resignation letter published in the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights said it is deeply disturbed to learn of the resignation of the respected rights commission chair.

ZLHR spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda told VOA that the latest developments indicate a serious threat to protection of human rights as elections approach.

VOA Studio 7 was not able to get a comment from Professor Austin but Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu admits his ministry has failed the commission.

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