OUTGOING United Nations (UN) Resident Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe Bishow Parajuli says government must bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations, as lack of action is hurting the country.
BY BRIDGET MANANAVIRE
Parajuli said although the government has made promises to stop human rights abuses and bring to book perpetrators of atrocities on citizens, there was need for action to complement the words.
This follows a continuation of brutality and assault on citizens by the country’s security forces, after unarmed citizens who had gathered to peacefully protest in the capital a fortnight ago.
“They (government) condemn (the brutality), but sadly it has happened. I know there is concern and they agree for it to not happen et cetera, but there is a need to really challenge and to bring to justice those who have perpetrated and done these bad things, which is ultimately hurting the country broadly, and it is hurting bringing unity among the society and all these efforts for peaceful movements and progress being driven. We need to continue to hammer this,” Parajuli said at the sidelines of a briefing at the UN offices in Harare.
“They do promise to deal with it (human rights violations). I think they do realise how bad it is and there are efforts. There are certain segments of the leadership I have seen whom I think are also not happy themselves.
“I can’t comment on whether they are divisions. I don’t know to be honest, but I think there is need for a strong re-enforcement of this voice that we need to be moving to a peaceful way and to a dialogue way.”
Parajuli said for people to have trust in government there instead of just words.
He said human rights violations could deter the progress that government had made in engaging the international community.
Parajuli said peaceful demonstrations should be allowed saying cracking down on protestors had given Zimbabwe a negative image.
“Zimbabweans are very peaceful people, that’s what I have seen. They are tolerant, but going to people in masks and beating them is absolutely intolerable. There should be dialogue, there should be a conversation. Everybody should feel free to say their perspectives and views and work in nation building in that broad sense,” Parajuli said.
Soldiers shot and killed six protestors on August 1 2018, attracting global condemnation in the process. The army was also deployed to quell protests in January this year resulting in the death of 17 people while two weeks ago the police assaulted peaceful demonstrators in Harare among them women and the elderly.
After the August 16 assault on citizens, the UN issued a statement condemning police brutality as well as the arrest and detention of civil society leaders and activists.
The world body said state authorities had a duty to ensure people’s rights to freedom of expression, and to facilitate and protect the right to peaceful assembly.
“In addition, we urge the Senate when reviewing the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill to protect the essential democratic freedoms of peaceful assembly and demonstration by ensuring the Bill’s compliance with the Constitution, decisions of the Constitutional Court, and international human rights standards,” the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville read.
“In January, we expressed concerns about reports of excessive use of force, including live ammunition, by Zimbabwean security forces during protests following the announcement of an increase in petrol prices.
“We are not aware of the indictment or prosecution of a single alleged perpetrator of human rights violations committed during or after of those protests. The government does not appear to have carried out the requisite investigations into the violence, including the alleged excessive use of force by security forces, in a prompt, thorough and transparent manner, with a view to accountability, and we urge it to do so without further delay.”