ZimRights condemned all enforced disappearances and called on government to facilitate the return of and provide information about all victims of enforced disappearances, and to undertake independent and transparent investigations into all such cases as the world mark the International Day of Enforced Disappearances.
On 30 August every year, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) marks the International Day of Enforced Disappearances.
The Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 and the date, August 30, was chosen to commemorate the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino human rights activist who was abducted by state forces in 2007.
According to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992 as a body of principles for all States, an enforced disappearance occurs when:
“persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organised groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
Enforced disappearances deprive family members, their friends and the community the right to know the truth about their loved ones.
Enforced disappearances have frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society.
The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and society as a whole.
Recently ZimRights launched the Policy and Practice Brief titled Facing the Fear: Confronting Threats to Personal Security and Peace in Zimbabwe which spotlights some of the issues affecting personal security and peace in Zimbabwe.
The report makes the finding that the semblance of peace in Zimbabwe is, in fact, a manifestation of ‘authoritarian peace’.
This form of ‘peace’ sometimes allows for the absence of direct violence but is almost always enforced by structural and cultural violence that disempowers citizens, turning them into subservient and apathetic subjects. Enforced disappearances also affect peace in Zimbabwe.
“As we commemorate this day, it marks 8 years after the enforced disappearance of Itayi Dzamara – a voice of dissent against the government of Zimbabwe.
On the morning of 9 March 2015, Dzamara was abducted by five unidentified men, suspected to be state agents, while at a barbershop in Harare’s Glen View suburb.
His family, friends and the nation have never been able to find the truth”, ZimRights said.
They went on to say, “Such disappearances violate a lot of human rights which include the right to personal liberty, the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as stated in section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.
ZimRights called on the Government of Zimbabwe to, “Fulfil its obligations to prevent enforced disappearances, to search for the victims, to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators.
To ratify the United Nations Conventions Against Torture or Inhuman Treatment as well as the International Convention for The Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances among other progressive conventions.
Respect the constitution of Zimbabwe which, under chapter 4, speaks to the safeguarding of fundamental human rights as well as Section 206 of the Constitution which obliges Zimbabwe’s security services to act with utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution”.