UN urges Zimbabwe to respect right to protest

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A UN special envoy to Zimbabwe has urged the authorities to drop criminal charges against several civil society and union leaders, arrested for organising anti-government protests in January.

Over a dozen people were killed in a military crackdown.

A special reporter on freedom of assembly and peaceful protests, Clement Voule called on Zimbabwe to promote human rights by respecting the rights to peaceful protest.

He added that Zimbabweans’ hope for change under a new government was fading.

The envoy ended his fact-finding mission with a scathing assessment of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s human rights reform agenda.

Opposition protests are increasingly banned. Several civil society leaders are currently charged with inciting Zimbabweans to overthrow the government, for calling for stay-at-home protests.

Mr Mnangagwa has pledged to improve human rights in his country but critics say his leadership is increasingly repressive.

The UN envoy applauded the move to repeal laws that restrict freedoms, but said the proposed laws didn’t go far enough in meeting international standards.

Zimbabwe faces mass protests due to the economic crisis. The UN envoy urged authorities to rather focus on addressing the root causes of the discontent, rather than restricting protests.

 

Sammie Idika