The International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations (IFHHRO) promotes international co-operation for the protection and promotion of health-related human rights. As such, IFHHRO wishes to express its concern about the de
teriorating situation in Zimbabwe with regard to human rights defenders and the shrinking democratic space in which they must operate.
IFHHRO shares the view that the Non-Governmental Organisation Bill 2004 represents a needlessly intrusive set of rules designed to outlaw certain non-governmental organisations and to criminalise fund-raising activities by their members.
IFHHRO notes that the government of Zimbabwe has already overseen the passage of suppressive legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
The most recent Amnesty International report on Zimbabwe observed an escalation in state-sponsored attacks on critics of the government, a clampdown on freedom of speech and political manipulation of food aid by the ruling Zanu PF.
The socio-economic situation is such that almost 80% of the population exists below the poverty line and the national health system is so ravaged that wooden oxen-drawn carts have replaced ambulances.
The present climate in Zimbabwe constitutes an axis of repression in which all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – are undermined. Every effort must be made to protect and promote the work of human rights defenders and the non-governmental organisations through which they work.
IFHHRO supports the peaceful responses of the non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe, and the specific work of associations such as the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights which, as an IFHHRO affiliate, shares our mandate for the promotion of the right to health.
IFHHRO calls on the government of Zimbabwe to uphold its commitments to protect and promote human rights under international and regional agreements.
In this regard we refer specifically to the Grand Bay (Mauritius) and Kigali Declarations which recognise the role of human rights defenders and Nepad which emphasises the importance of observance of human rights, good governance and the rule of law as a basis for sustainable economic development.
Adriaan van Es, MD