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Amnesty International Concerned About Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe

Amnesty International Report 2015/16 The State of the World's Human Rights

A global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has expressed concern over the slow pace of implementing the new constitution in Zimbabwe and the continued hindrance of freedom of association and speech as well as the failure by the state to deliver justice to those whose rights have been infringed.

The organization, which on Wednesday released its 2015/2016 annual human rights report at a press conference at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, noted that like Zimbabwe, many countries in Africa and the rest of the world continue to violate human rights.

The report said there is lack of freedom of association, freedom of speech and other fundamental rights in most African nations.

In its report, Amnesty International cited the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara in March last year which remained unresolved as one of the gross human rights abuses that are dogging the country.

The organisation also noted that forced evictions of informal traders by municipal police are still continuing, including illegal demolitions of houses.

"The enforced disappearance of prominent pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara in March remained unresolved. Freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be restricted and a number of journalists were arrested. Forced evictions continued throughout the year with thousands of informal traders being forcibly evicted by municipal police from Central Harare, resulting in clashes and arrests. The slow pace of legal reform to bring legislation into line with the 2013 Constitution restricted access to rights guaranteed by the Constitution," read the report.

Human rights expert, Arthur Gwagwa, told VOA Studio 7 there is need for Zimbabwe to align all laws with the new constitution in order to fully protect people’s rights.

Gwagwa agreed with the views expressed by Amnesty International on the alignment of laws in line with the 2013 constitution.

"But what's more important is that after aligning the law with the constitution is there going to be any change in the country but where it really matters is compliance with the laws whilst realigning the constitution and what is also important is to prioritise other pieces of legislation that are more pressing for example the Criminal (Codefication and Reform) Act that penalizes people when they insult the president. Although the constitutional court struck out that provision a few weeks ago we are yet to see if that judgement will be respected," said Gwagwa.

Gwagwa added that it is important for African states and the rest of the world to respect the rights of freedom of association and speech because they are fundamental to the realisation of political participation.

Interview With Arthur Gwagwa
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