Zimbabwe Marks Human Rights Day

Chitungwiza, 17 December 2015 - In an event filled with drama, dance, poetry and eloquent speeches, hundreds of Zimbabweans from all walks of life gathered at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex in Harare to commemorate the International Human Rights Day on 17 December 2015.

The theme of the commemoration was "Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." The theme is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.IMG_4143REV_0.jpg

The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

“Each year, the commemoration is getting bigger and better thanks to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission” Vice-President Honourable Emmerson Mnangagwa, the chief guest at the event explained.

Expressing the Government’s commitment to promote and protect human rights in Zimbabwe, the VP said, citing the establishment and operationalization of the ZHRC, the promulgation of the new Constitution with an expanded Bill of Rights as well as the country’s submission to the Universal Periodic Review Process of the UN Human Rights Council.

“The Government has decentralized the Legal Aid Directorate and new courts have been established to bring justice closer to the people” added the VP.

The WHO Representative, Dr David Okello, who is also the acting UN Resident Coordinator reiterated the UN’s continued commitment to work with the national stakeholders in ensuring the realisation of all rights. “In line with our commitment under the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework, we will support the country to achieve its national development priorities and international obligations” he stated. Dr Okello said that the 50th anniversary of the two Covenants accord opportunity for everyone to examine and reflect on the various multi-sectoral efforts towards the enjoyment of rights and freedoms since endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than 50 years ago”.

Highlighting the importance that the European Union attaches to human rights, the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme said the EU recognises the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms as a bedrock of its foreign policy “because this could lead to sustainable, inclusive social and economic development” he said, adding that Zimbabwe needs to accelerate efforts in aligning legislation to the new Constitution, and strengthening legal system to ensure effective protection of human rights.

Organized by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the event was attended by representatives of the Government, donor community, UN, human rights groups and NGOs, traditional leaders, faith based organisations and the media.