Complying with the Abuja Agreement: Two Months Report

The current Human Rights Forum report – “Complying with the Abuja Agreement: Two Months Report” – examines compliance with the Abuja Agreement two months on.

As will be seen, there is no credible evidence that the violence has ceased, either on the commercial farms or in the country generally. The evidence before the Forum indicates that commercial farmers and commercial farm workers are still the victims of gross human rights violations. Furthermore, the evidence indicates, contrary to the assertions of the ZRP, that the ZRP still holds a partisan position, and is frequently either inactive in preventing crimes being committed, in offering protection to the citizens who are the victims of these crimes, and rarely take credible steps to investigate or to hand over for prosecution offenders implicated in the commission of these crimes. Additionally, there is evidence that the state law officers have been dilatory in prosecuting perpetrators of gross human violations.

Again, the evidence indicates that there is no significant reduction in the perpetration of gross human rights generally. There is no change in the number of gross human rights recorded post-Abuja, with the victims being overwhelmingly the supporters of the MDC or other persons deemed to be sympathetic to this party. The perpetrators are overwhelmingly government agents (CIO or police), ZanuPF supporters, or militia. Again there is little evidence to suggest that the ZRP have acted in defense of citizens, or made credible investigations. There is also evidence that perpetrators previously identified as committing human rights violations in the 2000 General Election are again identified in the current period as committing further human rights violations. Given the explicitly partisan position expressed by the senior management of the ZRP, the Forum demands an independent and impartial commission of inquiry on both the violence and the conduct of the ZRP.

As regards credible attempts by the Government to adhere to principles of democracy, transparency and human rights, the evidence suggests rather that the Government is taking steps inimical to such principles agreed at Abuja. The intended passing of a number of new laws, that will all interfere very dramatically with basic human freedoms are clearly not within the spirit of the Abuja Agreement. In particular, the amendments to the Electoral Act clearly violate the intention to hold free and fair elections, and are wholly against the spirit and the content of the SADC Parliamentary Forum’s Minimum Standards for Elections.

Thus, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Zimbabwe Government has no serious intention to adhere to the Abuja Agreement in any of its aspects. The actions of the Government suggest that it intends to hold elections against a background of organized violence and torture and, furthermore, to hold elections within a framework that is inimical to common standards for free and fair elections. Finally, the Government appears to be taking steps to apply repressive and draconian legislation to many branches of civil society. In the view of the Forum, there are no grounds for accepting that the Abuja Agreement can have any further validity.

The Human Rights Forum condemns the continued violence, the attempts to erode the basic freedoms of citizens and civil society organizations, and the failure to set in place generally-accepted conditions for free and fair elections. There is need for urgent action by both Zimbabweans and the international community if a major catastrophe is to be avoided in Zimbabwe. The Forum calls upon the Commonwealth and SADC to review their positions vis-à-vis the Zimbabwe Government, and to require it to ensure a return to the rule of law, an end to the violence, and the ensuring of free and fair elections within the standards of the Harare Declaration and the various SADC protocols regarding human rights observance and election standards.

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