THE African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has managed to hear only a single case out of 13 communications filed by Zimbabwe human rights and media organisations against the Zimbabwean government.
The ACHPR has deferred
the hearing of 12 other cases to its next meeting in November after the Zimbabwean government failed to submit written responses on time.
Zimbabwe was represented at the meeting by Misa-Zimbabwe’s legal officer, Wilbert Mandinde, who expressed concern that the commission had heard only one out of 13 communications filed by Zimbabwe civic organisations and said this was a major setback.
“Undue delays in hearing and delivering decisions on communications by the commission remains a major source of concern,” said Mandinde.
However, one case submitted by Misa-Zimbabwe urging the ACHPR to take action on Zimbabwe government’s proposed Interception of Communications Bill was heard.
Misa-Zimbabwe made the submissions to the ACHPR’s 39th ordinary session in Banjul, Gambia last week, urging the continental body to use its influence and exert pressure on the Zimbabwean government not to pass the law that will allow government to snoop on e-mail and telephone communications.
The commission’s 39th ordinary session ended in Banjul last Thursday.
“Misa is concerned that the Zimbabwean government is coming up with an Interception of Communications Bill … which will enable the government to spy into telephone and e-mail messages in what will obviously be a blatant and outright invasion of privacy and infringement of the right to receive and impart ideas without interference with one’s correspondence.
“Misa therefore urges the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, to encourage the government of Zimbabwe not to pass this bill,” Misa-Zimbabwe said in its submission to the commission.
Mandinde said Zimbabwe’s media organisations were also concerned with proposals by the government-controlled Media and Information Commission to amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in order to regulate the entry of foreign publications into Zimbabwe.
“Based on our experience with this commission, we foresee the banning of these publications in the country,” Mandinde said.
Misa-Zimbabwe, however, saluted the African Commission for adopting a resolution on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe during the previous session held in December 2005 and called upon the ACHPR to press the Zimbabwean government to respect its resolutions and findings.