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Robson Chere

HRD, Secretary General

Robson Chere is a human rights defender and the secretary general of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ). ARTUZ is a Trade Union working for the improvement of the working conditions of rural teachers as well as the right to education in rural areas of Zimbabwe. Founded in 2009 in response to extremely poor wages and working conditions of rural teachers, the union now has about 35,000 members and operates in 10 provinces, widening its reach to include non rural teachers.

Despite numerous challenges, Zimbabwe has an active civil society advocating for a broad range of human rights issues, yet increasing numbers of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists are being targeted due to their legitimate human rights work. This has included being subjected to threats, arbitrary detention, abductions and enforced disappearances and the police are able to act with impunity. In particular, human rights defenders tackling issues concerning corruption, public accountability and impunity have been targeted.

In May 2013, a new constitution was adopted which enshrines a number of fundamental rights including the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression as well as political participation. However, restrictive legislation continues to impinge on the work of human rights defenders and civil society organisations are still subjected to prohibitive legal restraints. Despite calls from the international community, the government has not yet aligned its legislation with this new constitution.