Zimbabwe to Ratify African Court Protocol

16 August 2019

Government is set to ratify the protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (AfCHPR) that seeks to enhance the protection of human rights on the continent.

Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said President Mnangagwa has directed him to set in motion processes to ratify the protocol.

He was speaking to journalists after a meeting between AfCHPR president Justice Sylvain Ore and President Mnangagwa in Harare yesterday.

"It's a process and we are considering it and hopefully in the not so distant future we will have ratified it," he said.

"We took the delegation to the President and he agreed that we move along with other African nations in ratifying the Charter so it's now work in progress we have been directed to work on it. This was an interactive session, but the Head of State have given us the green light to look into the ratification of the charter."

Justice Ore and his delegation which included former Malawian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Justice Tujilane Chizumila, was in the country for a two-day sensitisation seminar on Human and People's Rights, which ended yesterday.

Minister Ziyambi said during his meeting with the AfCHPR president, President Mnangagwa was surprised that Zimbabwe is yet to ratify and deposit the legal instrument to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the establishment of the continental judicial organ.

President Mnangagwa has hit the ground running on the reform front to give the nation a different, positive direction since his inauguration in November 2017.

He is on record saying his administration will work towards ensuring that the pillars of the State assuring democracy in the country are strengthened and respected.

Minister Ziyambi said there was now need to ensure that "we are sensitised as to the role and we raise awareness about the court while we go through the necessary proceedings to ensure that we ratify the protocol".

He added that the AfCHPR sensitisation visit came at a time when Zimbabwe was awaiting to present its combined State party reports under the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Maputo Protocol during the 65th Session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights slated for October-November 2019 in Banjul, Gambia.

Speaking on cause of delay in ratifying Minister Ziyambi said: "There are certain issues within the Charter that the majority of African countries were unhappy with. One of the issues is that of direct access by citizens to the court that is one of the issues that was contentious and States felt that local remedies must always be exhausted before you approach the court and I believe that is being attended to and once that is attended to the majority of African countries will ratify."

Justice Ore said Zimbabwe is among the first countries to sign the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on February 20, 1996, which ratified in May of the same year.

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