Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
|Key people||ELASTO H. MUGWADI|
|Mission||To be an effective, fearless, and independent national champion for the advancement of human rights, that is committed to the protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights and administrative justice in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and International Human Rights Standards.|
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is a national human rights institution which was established under section 242 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It is an independent Commission whose main mandate is to protect, promote and enforce human rights.
Background to the establishment of the Commission
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) was created by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which was signed by the three major political actors (Zanu-PF and two MDC formations) in 2008 and was given effect by Constitution Amendment 19 and specifically section 100R of the former Constitution. It is now established by the current Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act 2013, Chapter 12, commonly referred to as “Independent Commissions supporting democracy” and sections 242-244 of the same. It is operationalized by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act Chapter 10:30 which was promulgated on the 12th of October, 2012.
The first Commissioners were sworn into office on the 31st of March, 2010.
A Zimbabwean society where human rights and administrative justice are fully enjoyed by everyone.
To be an effective, fearless, and independent national champion for the advancement of human rights, that is committed to the protection, promotion, and enforcement of human rights and administrative justice in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and International Human Rights Standards.
The Commission is mandated to, among other things;
- Promote awareness of and respect for all human rights and freedoms;
- Promote the protection, development and realization of all human rights and freedoms;
- Monitor and assess observance of human rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe.
- Conduct research on issues relating to human rights, freedoms and social justice.
- Receive complaints from people on human rights abuses and to take appropriate action;
- Protect people against abuse of power and maladministration by the State and public institutions and by officials of those institutions.
- Make recommendations to Parliament on best ways of promoting, protecting and observance of human rights and freedoms;
- Investigate the conduct of any authority or person, suspected of violating any of the human rights provided in the Constitution’s Declaration of Rights.
- Take necessary action to assist victims of human rights violations to receive justice;
- Visit and inspect prisons, detention places, refugee camps and similar facilities where mentally disordered or intellectually handicapped persons are detained and make necessary recommendations about their conditions to the responsible Minister.
- Prepare and submit a human rights annual report to Parliament.
Complaints Handling & Investigations
The complaints handling and investigations unit is responsible for receiving all complaints that come to the Commission. It is also responsible for making investigations into the reported cases. The Commission deals with complaints of abuses and violations of rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and in any international human rights agreements that the country has agreed to sign and any complaints arising from abuse of power or maladministration by the State and public institutions and by officers of those institutions. It should be noted that the office of the public protector has been abolished. Cases that were being dealt with by the public protector are now being dealt with by this Unit.
After investigating and concluding that there has been a human rights violation, the Commission can make recommendations it sees fit to redress the situation and also send this information to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Commission can also recommend payment of compensation to the individual or their family and where appropriate, it may recommend release of a person from prison. The Commission may also recommend that the person seeks redress in a court of law, as well as recommend prosecution of offenders. The Commission, however, cannot handle complaints of violations that occurred before 13 February 2009 or violations in which a three year period has elapsed.
Education, Promotion, and Research
The Education, Promotion and Research unit is responsible for educating people on human rights issues through various media channels, conducting community outreach programmes, seminars and training workshops.
The Unit is also responsible for developing Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for use by the Commission in order to promote awareness of, and respect of all human rights and freedoms. It is also responsible for conducting research on issues relating to human rights, freedoms and social justice. The Unit is also responsible for establishing a documentation center for storing books and publications on human rights.
Monitoring & Inspection
The Monitoring and Inspections Unit was established in order to fulfill the provisions of section 243(k) of the Constitution. The unit is responsible for visiting and inspecting prisons, places of detention, refugee camps and related facilities. It is also responsible for visiting and inspecting places where mentally disordered or intellectually handicapped persons are detained. The purpose of such visits and inspections will be to ascertain the conditions under which these various groups of people live under and to make recommendations regarding those conditions to the relevant authorities responsible for administering the law related to those places. The unit is also tasked with researching issues related to the above-mentioned groups.