ZLHR STATEMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE RIGHT TO THE TRUTH CONCERNING GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND FOR THE DIGNITY OF VICTIMS
On the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross
Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the state to take concrete
measures designed to reveal the truth concerning gross human rights
violations that have occurred in Zimbabwe. ZLHR also urges the state
actors to take steps to restore the dignity of the victims of gross
human rights violations by initiating necessary processes to provide
reparations to the victims, survivors and their relatives.
The International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross
Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is celebrated
every year on 24 March.
It aims to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human
rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and
justice. In addition, it seeks to pay tribute to the people who have
devoted their lives to or lost their lives in the struggle to promote
and protect the human rights of everyone. The day is also an
opportunity to celebrate the important work and values of Archbishop
Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Archbishop Romero was assassinated after he
denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable
populations and defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting
human dignity and the rejection of all forms of violence.
The right to the truth about gross human rights violations and serious
violations of human rights law is an inalienable right. Such a right
imposes an obligation on the state to protect and guarantee human
rights through conducting investigations and the provision of
effective remedies and reparations to the victims of gross human
rights violations. The right to the truth implies the knowledge of the
complete truth as to the events that transpired, the specific
circumstances in which the violations took place, who participated in
them and the reasons for the violations. In addition, the relatives of
the victims of torture, summary executions, and enforced
disappearances are entitled to know what happened to the victims.
Although the Constitution of Zimbabwe established the National Peace
and Reconciliation Commission, ZLHR remains concerned that many
victims and survivors of gross human rights violations have not yet
been able to know the truth about what happened to them, their
relatives, friends or neighbours.
The Gukurahundi massacres remain a sore point in the history of
Zimbabwe and it is worrying that the state has not yet conducted
thorough investigations into these gross human rights violations that
qualify as genocide under international law. ZLHR has collaborated in
the past with other like-minded organisations to compel the state
actors to release information to establish the truth. In the
constitutional case of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights & Another v
The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe & Another filed as case No.
311 of 1999, the applicants sought a court order for the release of
information to establish the truth about Gukurahundi. Although the
case was dismissed, ZLHR joins all progressive people who continue to
call on state actors to release information for the truth to be
established and bring the perpetrators of the massacres to account and
pay reparations to the families of the victims and survivors.
The right to the truth and dignity of victims requires that the state
pay reparations for the state-sanctioned gross violations and
apologise. Similarly, the state should promptly and thoroughly
investigate all documented cases of human rights violations such as
disappearances of human rights defenders that have occurred in the
The August 1 2018 shootings must also be thoroughly investigated and
the perpetrators held accountable. The relatives of all those who were
murdered in cold blood by state security agents on that day are
entitled to full knowledge about what happened to the victims as well
as reparations from the state.
On this International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross
Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, ZLHR urges
state actors to:
o Take concrete measures designed to reveal the truth concerning gross
human rights violations that have occurred during different periods in
o Take steps to restore the dignity of the victims of gross human
rights violations by making reparations,
o Investigate the reported and documented cases of enforced disappearances,
o Pay reparations to the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearances,
o Urgently investigate all documented cases of gross violations and
make the perpetrators accountable and pay reparations to the relatives
of the victims.