Govt accused of injustices 

Source: Govt accused of injustices –Newsday Zimbabwe

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) yesterday said it was regrettable that Zimbabwe commemorated World Day of Social Justice amid ongoing injustices against alleged illegal settlers across the country.

The international day seeks to promote social justice as well as efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, unemployment, human rights and social protection.

It is celebrated annually on February 20.

This year the day was commemorated under the theme: Global coalition for social justice: Bridging Gaps, Building Alliances.

In a statement, ZLHR said it was disturbing that the opposite was happening in Zimbabwe after the government launched an operation against purported illegal settlers.

“The day is being marked at a distressing moment when authorities are on a sustained onslaught against civil liberties, which has the detrimental effects of creating a web of disadvantaged and perpetuating cycles of human rights excesses, inequality, poverty, internal displacements, starvation and large-scale suffering of people,” ZLHR said in its statement.

ZLHR said the exercise that had seen thousands being evicted from communal lands was no different from the 2005 internationally condemned Operation Murambatsvina.

At least 700 000 people were left homeless in 2005 after their houses and sources of livelihoods were destroyed by police during the operation.

A special United Nations envoy, Anna Tibaijuka sent to probe the home demolitions issued a damning report saying the campaign violated the rights of poor people and breached international law.

“Despite adopting a progressive Constitution in 2013, which guarantees freedom from arbitrary eviction and despite being condemned heavily by the United Nations in 2005 for rolling out operation Murambatsvina, which turned out to be a disastrous venture (and) left 700 000 people without homes or jobs, It is incomprehensible that the government has once again chosen to embark on an infamous countrywide operation to forcibly, evict, displace and destroy people’s homesteads without offering them any alternative accommodation or shelter.

“It certainly appears that no lessons were learnt from such a massive gross violation of human rights,” said the rights defender.

“Government should realise that forced evictions and displacement of people are a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to shelter guaranteed in section 28 of the Constitution and freedom from arbitrary eviction enshrined in section 74 of the Constitution.

“Moreover, forced evictions and homelessness intensify social conflict and inequality and invariably affect less privileged people and vulnerable members and sectors of society,” ZLHR added.

Government has since suspended the operation following an outcry across the country, even from the ruling Zanu PF party.

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