Child marriages in Zimbabwe and the failure by the State to fulfil its obligations to protect the rights of childrenPosted: 26 August, 2021 Filed under: Nqobani Nyathi | Tags: ACERWC, Africa, African Commission, child marriage, child marriages, children's rights, Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child, constitution, Constitution of Zimbabwe, discrimination, gender inequality, girl child, human rights, Maputo Protocol, Marriage Act, Marriages Bill, provisions, religion, religious justification, religious sects, reproductive health, rights of children, rule of law, sexual rights, SRHR, women's rights, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Nqobani Nyathi
Researcher, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Recently, there have been reports about a 14-year old child who died during childbirth. The reason why such a tragedy happened and may continue to happen is the State’s failure or unwillingness to eradicate child marriages. This article seeks to outline Zimbabwe’s legislative framework regarding child marriages and its obligations in terms of international law.
The legal position
Child marriage is illegal in Zimbabwe as held by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court. In January 2016, the apex court rightly found that the legislative provisions legalising child marriages were inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution has fairly strong provisions promoting and protecting the rights of children, including the right to be protected from sexual exploitation or any form of abuse. The Court also observed that historically there has been a “lack of common social consciousness on the problems of girls who became victims of early marriages.”
The fact that child marriages had to be declared illegal through litigation exposes this lack of common social consciousness. Zimbabwe had been clinging to the archaic law legalising the marriage of children in terms of both the Marriage Act 81 of 1964 and the Customary Marriages Act 23 of 1950.
Natural resources: The cause of the permanence of armed conflicts in Africa?Posted: 3 August, 2021 Filed under: Boubakar A. Mahamadou | Tags: armed conflict, arms, arms dealers, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, conflict, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), development, economic crimes, economic interests, governance, legal framework, legal measures, mineral resources, natural resources, Rwanda, troops, Uganda, war, War economy, warlords, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Boubakar A. Mahamadou
Graduate, Swiss Umef University
Africa is undoubtedly a continent rich in natural resources thanks to its subsoil which abounds in 30% of the world’s mineral resources. However, these resources have not allowed the long-awaited development of the continent to be achieved. These resources have also become the main sources of conflict on the continent. Indeed, the presence of significant natural resources on the territory of a State increases the risk of armed conflict. They can motivate secessionist demands, finance rebellions or even stir up violence. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), natural resources are associated with 40% of internal conflicts around the world. It is in this sense that in Africa, we have been witnessing for some time now, the development of an economy of armed conflict.
COVID-19 and the access to information conundrum in AfricaPosted: 10 April, 2020 Filed under: Hlengiwe Dube | Tags: Access to Information, barriers, corona virus, COVID-19, data costs, Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, digital divide, disabilities, flatten the curve, girls, indigenous communities, information accessibility, internet, internet access, internet taxation, lockdowns, Model Law on Access to Inofmration in Africa, nationwide crisis management, older persons, Open Government Partnership, pandemic, PWD, right to health, South Africa, women, Zimbabwe 1 Comment
Author: Hlengiwe Dube
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
As the world grapples with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the disease caused by the novel Corona-virus, Africa has not been spared. Although the rate of infection is still lower than the rest of the world, it is rising steadily. Governments across the world have initiated partial or nationwide crisis management measures including curfews, lockdowns, contact tracing, surveillance and testing to curb the spread of the virus, which has been coined as measures to ‘flatten the curve’. For these government-initiated emergency measures to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus, the public must comply with the government regulations. Access to information becomes very essential for the realisation of this objective and by extension other equally essential goals such as achieving the human right to health.
The impact of Internet shutdowns in AfricaPosted: 21 February, 2019 Filed under: Tomiwa Ilori | Tags: ACHPR, Africa, African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Governments, Arab-spring, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), digital rights, Egypt, electoral malpractices, Freedom of Expression And Access to Information, general elections, ICCPR, ICESCR, internet, internet shutdown, Johannesburg Principles on National Security, national security, public protests, shutdown, Siracusa Principles, state power, Sudan, technology, violations, Zimbabwe 1 Comment
Author: Tomiwa Ilori
LLD Candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
In the past, authoritarianism like any other form of illegitimacy has always been paranoid of disruptions. The internet, since its decentralisation in the last century, has blurred boundary lines, projected a classless society and looked to upset apple carts in political spaces. It is typical that this form of “magic” that could redefine state power rattled many governments. African governments soon began to show overt signs of paranoia and not too long, Africa became the first continent to experience an internet shutdown in Egypt on 28 January 2011. Since then, several governments in Africa have constantly violated digital rights with the justification of national security which supposes that both are mutually exclusive.
Where is democracy? Reflections on the ascendancy of Mnangagwa as president of ZimbabwePosted: 27 November, 2017 Filed under: Charles Ngwena | Tags: Ayi Kwei Armah, constitution, coup, democracy, dictatorship, elections, Emmerson Mnangagwa, ethnic cleansing, Gukurahundi, Matebeleland, military, military intervention, national army, political change, Robert Mugabe, white minority rule, ZANU-PF, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Defence Force 2 Comments
Author: Charles Ngwena
Professor of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
What seemed unimaginable has happened. After an uninterrupted ‘reign’ of 37 years, Robert Mugabe, the de facto emperor of Zimbabwe, has ‘resigned’ from office. There has been genuine jubilation not least among those who have been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s increasingly despotic, corrupt and dysfunctional governance – the majority of Zimbabweans. Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken office as Mugabe’s successor. It is a historic moment. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabweans have only known Mugabe as their political supremo – initially as prime minister and latterly as president. The fact of Mugabe’s departure from office, alone, has raised hopes that we might be at the cusp of a compassionate, fairer, humane and democratic Second Republic. At the same time, the clouds are pregnant with contradictions, counselling us not to throw caution aside even as we pine for change. Why is this?
International human rights advocacy and the abolition of irreducible life imprisonment in ZimbabwePosted: 13 September, 2016 Filed under: Andrew Novak | Tags: Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, Death Penalty Project, domestic law, European Court of Human Rights, foreign jurisprudence, global jurisprudenc, human rights, international death penalty litigation, international human rights norms, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, Justice Bharat Patel, law reform, life without parole, Makoni v. Commissioner of Prisons, parole, Prisons Act, rehabilitative criminal sentences, South African Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Namibia, Tendai Biti, transnational human rights, transnational human rights advocates, Veritas Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Andrew Novak
Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at George Mason University
On July 13, 2016, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe (ConCourt) found that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional as it violated the rights to equal protection and human dignity and the prohibition on cruel and degrading punishment. The decision, Makoni v. Commissioner of Prisons, is undoubtedly a victory for human rights, due to the dismal state of prison conditions in Zimbabwe and the emotional and psychological harm caused by indeterminate sentences. In its decision, the ConCourt cited a wide range of jurisprudence from foreign and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, South African Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Namibia, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London to discern a global trend toward rehabilitative criminal sentences. Many of these foreign and international legal sources were brought to the ConCourt’s attention by transnational human rights lawyers themselves in their Heads of Argument, underscoring the important role that advocates play in the diffusion of international human rights norms.
The SADC Tribunal: Concerted efforts for waves of change we want to seePosted: 19 June, 2015 Filed under: Patricia Mwanyisa | Tags: 2014 Protocol, access to justice, AEC, African Charter, Campbell Case, civil society, COMESA, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, justice, lawyers, legal mechanisms, ratification, RECs, SADC, SADC Heads of States, SADC Tribunal, Southern African Development Community, Zimbabwe 5 Comments
Author: Patricia Mwanyisa
Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is known for its spectacular and majestic water falls. In August last year it was not just water that was falling at Victoria Falls but the SADC Tribunal as we know it fell spectacularly as leaders from the Southern African Development Community approved a new protocol to reconstitute the SADC Tribunal. The new tribunal has a limited mandate. By adopting a new protocol, the leaders effectively buried the SADC Tribunal which used to operate under the 2000 protocol. They decided to ignore recommendations from their own legal advisors and attorney generals and created a new Tribunal whose mandate is limited only to the adjudication of inter-state disputes. Simply put, under the 2014 Protocol, citizens are deprived of their right to refer a dispute between themselves and their government to the SADC Tribunal. Without a tribunal, justice and redress will remain elusive for people of the region.
It is important to remember that central to the demise of the tribunal is the case of Mike Campbell and Others v Zimbabwe (Campbell Case) in which the Tribunal found in favor of Zimbabwean white farmers whose land had been compulsorily acquired and without compensation by the Zimbabwean government. In retaliation Zimbabwe strategically attacked the jurisdiction and operation of the tribunal, mobilized support for its suspension and ultimately, its eventual disbandment. By succumbing to the demands of Zimbabwe, SADC Heads of state have ultimately eliminated the access of individuals and groups to the Tribunal at the behest of one State [Zimbabwe] and consequently depriving the entire region of the benefits of such an important institution. Discussions and decisions on the utility of the Tribunal should rather surpass the opinion of one State’s argument based on just one case and personal short term gains. Even so, Zimbabweans themselves and particularly politicians and elected MPs who represent the people of that country must objectively review the wisdom in taking such a stance – more so at a time when Zimbabwe chairs the SADC bloc. They must never forget that they too are ordinary individuals who also depend on fair, transparent and accessible judicial mechanisms which they may need at some point in their lives regardless of their political affiliations. That is, at any given time the tide turns, politicians whether in opposition or in power are susceptible to becoming victims of State sanctioned attacks on the dignity of individuals, including political violence.
Dealing with statelessness in sub-Saharan Africa: The way forwardPosted: 13 May, 2015 Filed under: Michael Addaney | Tags: ACRWC, African Union, armed conflicts, Burundi, citizenship, civil society, conflicts, Cote d'Ivoire, CRC, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), economic migration, education, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Global Trends Report, health services, Kenya, Madagascar, statelessness, strategic advocacy, sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania, UNHCR, United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Zimbabwe 1 Comment
Author: Michael Addaney
Student (MPhil Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
‘Statelessness is a profound violation of an individual’s human rights. It would be deeply unethical to perpetuate the pain it causes when solutions are so clearly within reach.’
– Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Statelessness as a legal problem has far reaching political and economic challenges which have attracted rising attention from scholars, human rights activists and international organisations in recent years. Officially, statelessness means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law. The UNHCR started collecting data on stateless persons in the world in 2006 and confirmed in 2011 that the number of stateless persons around the world is in excess of 10 million despite conceding that obtaining the actual statistics is difficult.
The most affected are regions that have suffered or are experiencing armed conflicts or economic migration. Large numbers of stateless population are largely due to policies and laws which discriminate against foreigners despite their deeper roots in the states concerned. For instance, more than 120 000 persons in Madagascar are stateless on the basis of discriminatory citizenship laws and administrative procedures. Moreover, about 170 000 Burundian refugees who fled their country in 1972 are recognised as stateless in Tanzania despite cogent attempts by international and local organisations to have the situation rectified.
The Zimbabwean government’s measures to address maternal mortality have little prospects of successPosted: 30 July, 2013 Filed under: Linette du Toit | Tags: Abuja Declaration, African Union, CARMMA, constitution, Maputo Protocol, maternal deaths, maternal mortality, public health, reproductive rights, right to health, right to reproductive healthcare services, women, women's rights, Zimbabwe 2 Comments
Author: Linette du Toit
LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa
It is a universal and timeless reality that women face the risk of death in the process of giving life. In recent years, this risk has been virtually eliminated for those who have access to the necessary prenatal care and emergency medical assistance. Contrary to the global trend, Zimbabwe has seen a stark increase in its number of maternal deaths and currently sits with a figure that is 50% higher than the sub-Saharan average.
This state of affairs is not surprising in light of the disintegrated nature of Zimbabwe’s public health system, which reached its lowest point in 2008. At that time, government policies led to the closure of public hospitals and a medical school in Harare. Basic resources and emergency care have not been consistently available and the government’s failure to remunerate healthcare professionals with set salaries left many of them with no choice but to leave the country. The continuing epidemic of deaths which could have been prevented indicates an alarming disregard for a variety of rights and obligations on the part of the Zimbabwean government. Questions arise as to whether the government is taking appropriate measures to address the plight of Zimbabwean women.
The Death Penalty and the Right to Life in the Draft Constitutions of Zambia and ZimbabwePosted: 18 April, 2013 Filed under: Andrew Novak | Tags: burden of proof, constitution, death penalty, extenuating circumstances, India, right to life, South Africa, United States of America, Zambia, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Andrew Novak
Adjunct Professor of African Law, American University Washington College of Law and incoming Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society, George Mason University
On 16 March 2013, Zimbabwean voters overwhelmingly ratified a new constitution, which contains a right to life provision that dramatically scaled back the scope of the death penalty. The new constitution restricts the death penalty only to aggravated homicide and requires a judge to consider all mitigating factors in order to dispense a death sentence. The death penalty is a prohibited sentence for women and persons under the age 21 or over the age 70. The new constitution also establishes a constitutional right for prisoners to seek commutation or pardon from the executive. The death penalty was abolished for non-homicide offences, including treason, a notoriously politicised charge in recent years. Newspaper reports indicated that the Cabinet would review the cases of each of the current 72 death row inmates, even though a new hangman was hired in February 2013 after a twelve-year long search. The two women on death row would have their sentences automatically commuted.