ZIMBABWE has four overdue reports to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) dating back to 1999, it has emerged. Signatories to the Commission are
given timeframes to submit periodic reports and there are growing concerns that Zimbabwe might miss the deadline to submit another report, which is due in May.
The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that Zimbabwe, which ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on May 30 1986, has submitted only two reports to the African Commission since.
The Commission last year released a damning report on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe following a fact-finding mission three years ago, prompting an angry government reaction.
Zimbabwe’s first re-port, submitted in October 1992, combined reports from 1988 to 1992, while the second report combined reports from 1994 to 1996.
Secretary to the Af-rican Commission, Ger-main Baricako, in response to questions from the Independent said Zimbabwe last submitted reports in 1996 and now had four overdue.
Baricako said that the Commission “has adopted Guidelines on State Reporting that indicate the minimum requirements of State Periodic Reports and these guidelines have been widely disseminated to all State Parties to the African Charter”.
The African Commission, Baricako said, has a secretariat that “reminds states on a quarterly basis on the necessity to submit their reports”.
Baricako said that although the African Commission does not carry out any
punitive measures against states that do not submit their reports, at each Ordinary Session of the Commission, the status of submission of reports is compiled and made public.
Justice ministry permanent secretary David Mangota said although the periodic reports were supposed to be submitted in periods of two years, there was an allowance for countries to consolidate their reports into one.
“The African Commission has given countries that have fallen behind their reporting periods the leeway to consolidate all outstanding reports into one report highlighting the developments and extent of implementation since the last report was submitted,” he said.
Mangota said submissions are done by the end of the next reporting period, which is May 30 for Zimbabwe.
He attributed the delay to high staff turnover, “crip-pling operations of some of (the ministry’s) critical areas”, but said the coun-try had responded to all issues raised during appearances before the Commission including reporting obligations.
An institution of the African Union (AU), the ACHPR was established in 1987 as an enforcement mechanism under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
It was created to promote and protect rights in the African Charter, to engage in conflict resolution and to investigate violations of abuses.
According to its mandate, the Commission can consider complaints brought against state parties by individuals or other states, under Articles 55-59 of the African Charter. The Commission can take resolutions and make recommendations on human rights questions, which the Assembly of heads of state and government must approve.