Zimbabwe: Police Told to Protect Civilians

16 August 2019

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has called on the police to enforce the law without fear or favour and protect lives and property in the event MDC-Alliance demonstrations turn violent.

The commission also urged organisers of the planned demonstrations to put in place measures that will ensure the maintenance of peace and respect of other people's rights.

In a statement yesterday, the ZHRC said the police should not only protect the rights of those participating in the demonstrations, but also the lives and property of all.

"The commission has taken note of plans by the Movement for Democratic Change (Alliance) to organise demonstrations with effect from 16 August 2019. The freedom to demonstrate and petition is guaranteed under Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In providing for such rights the Constitution goes further to state that these rights must be exercised peacefully.

"The Commission emphasises that if such demonstrations do occur, these rights must be exercised responsibly. It is clear that the Constitution does not only protect the right of every person in Zimbabwe to demonstrate, but also places a responsibility on the demonstrators, as indeed on any other stakeholder, to uphold peace," read the statement.

The commission said maturity of a society's democracy was measured by the ability to tolerate differences in opinion, political persuasion, and expression of oneself openly and freely.

The ZHRC also called for the investigations into the alleged abduction reports.

"Any cases of enforced disappearances and lawlessness should be condemned in the strongest of terms and the perpetrators should be made accountable through prosecution.

"The ZHRC will deploy its teams of monitors to assess the situation on the ground with a view to contributing to the development of human rights, democracy, rule of law, good governance, and peace and stability in Zimbabwe," read the statement.

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