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30 March 2016

UPR Submission - Zimbabwe

Submission to the 26th Session of the Universal Period Review, November 2016
Date Submitted: 24 March 2016

Key Concerns

1. Human rights defenders and those working to denounce corruption and human rights violations perpetrated by police, military and other government agents have been targeted and subjected to judicial harassment and arbitrary detention. There were also reports of threats, enforced disappearance and physical attacks, although these incidents occurred less frequently. Human rights organisations have also been targeted through bans and lawsuits supported by the extensive restrictive legislation currently in force in the country.

2. In the period under review, Front Line Defenders supported in 37 cases of human rights defenders at risk in Zimbabwe, some of which concerned multiple HRDs or multiple violations. Many of them were cases of judicial harassment. Of concern is the targeting of human rights defenders working on issues related to democracy, good governance and public accountability, those working on LGBTI rights and on women's rights, those working on freedom of speech, documenting human rights abuses, and advocating for transparency in the country's extractive industries.

3. In the period under review, key concerns are the following:

(a)  Independent human rights organisations and human rights defenders operate under a restrictive legal framework;

(b)  Human rights defenders are subjected to police and judicial harassment, including arbitrary arrest and detention, the use of summons for questioning, and trumped-up charges;

(c)  Politically motivated violence against human rights defenders working on corruption, good governance and accountability of state actors.


1. Front Line Defenders calls upon the member states of the UN Human Rights Council to urge the Zimbabwean authorities to prioritise the protection of human rights defenders and in doing so to:

(a)  Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment, and ensure full respect for the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

(b)  Publicly recognise the positive and legitimate role played by human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

(c)  Accept and fully implement the UPR recommendations on human rights defenders in a transparent and participatory manner with full involvement of human rights defenders at all levels;

(d)  Take measures to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and ensure that the judicial system is not used to restrict the legitimate and peaceful work of human rights defenders;

(e)  Take urgent measures to put an end to the arrest and detention as well as judicial harassment against human rights defenders;

(f)  Combat impunity by ensuring the prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of all violations against HRDs, the prosecution of perpetrators, and access to effective remedies for victims;

(g)  Review the Private Voluntary Organisations Act (PVOA) to ensure its compliance with international standards on freedom of association and ensure the free and independent establishment and operation of civil society organisations;

(h)  Repeal or amend any legislation used to limit the legitimate work of human rights defenders with a view to ensure its compliance with international human rights standards, in particular the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act (CLCRA);

(i)  Take all necessary measures to establish the fate and whereabouts of journalist and pro-democracy activist, Mr Itai Dzamara; including the formation of an independent commission of inquiry focusing on his case.

Read UPR Submission