Zimbabwe: Human Rights Lawyers Condemn Vilification of Bishops

President Emmerson Mnangagwa
17 August 2020

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has condemned the criticism of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) by the Government.

In a statement, ZLHR said there was no justification in the vilification of the Bishops as it was their duty.

"There can be no justification of this vilification of the clergymen and this anti-Catholic scorn because for the Bishops, speaking out against transgressions is their moral obligation.

"As ZLHR, we are greatly concerned that the intolerance of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government on dissent and criticism is becoming more despicable every passing day and we should realise that it is the manifestation of President Mnangagwa's and his followers' fear on the people's legitimate dissatisfaction from a leader who claimed and promised to be a "listening" President which is equally growing," read the statement

Government's remarks, ZLHR said were aimed at embarrassing the clerics and was against the constitution.

"We have noted that in 2020 while the vilifiers and the vilified are different, the script is the same. The incendiary statements by government are aimed at inflicting shame on clergymen and to vilify their struggles that spring from righteous causes.

"Section 60 of the Constitution provides for freedom of conscience and states that; "Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, which includes-- (a) freedom of thought, opinion, religion or belief; and (b) freedom to practice and propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others."

In addition ZLHR said section 62 of the Constitution provides that; "Every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information."

The Human rights lawyers said Government was not only bound by domestic laws but by an International Covenant on civil and political rights.

"Besides domestic laws, government is bound by some regional and international instruments including Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that; "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and which does not permit any limitations whatsoever on the freedom of thought and conscience."

On Friday, ZCBC issued a strangely damning strong letter condemning Government over human rights violations with Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa labeling the clergymen evil minded.

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