Committee considered the initial report of Zimbabwe (CCPR/C/74/Add.3)
at its 1650th meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1650), held on 25 March
1998, and at its 1651st meeting (CCPR/C/SR. 1651), held
on 26 March 1998. It adopted the following concluding observations
on 3 April 1998 at its 1664th meeting (CCPR/C/SR. 1664).
Committee welcomes the initial report of Zimbabwe, which was prepared
in partial conformity with the Committee's guidelines. The Committee
regrets the considerable delay in the submission of the report and
notes that, while providing detailed information on prevailing legislation
in the field of human rights in Zimbabwe, the report does not contain
sufficient specific information on the implementation of the Covenant
in practice. Moreover, in the oral presentation by the delegation,
only an incomplete picture regarding constitutional amendments emerged.
The Committee appreciates the willingness of the State party to
engage in a frank and open dialogue and welcomes its offer to furnish
further and more detailed written information.
B. Positive aspects
Committee welcomes the on-going review of domestic legislation and
customary law in order to ensure their compatibility with the Covenant,
particularly in the area of women's rights. The Committee welcomes
the recent constitutional amendment which includes gender as a prohibited
ground of discrimination.
Committee welcomes the decisions of the Supreme Court upholding
rights protected by the Covenant.
Committee welcomes the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman,
with power to investigate citizens' complaints concerning alleged
violations of human rights by officials and the establishment of
an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights and International
Committee welcomes police training by non-governmental organizations,
and notes the efforts undertaken by Zimbabwe to integrate human
rights education in the school curricula.
Committee commends the provision of statistics on AIDS and the efforts
undertaken to incorporate AIDS/HIV awareness campaigns in the school
C. Subjects of concern and Committee's recommendations
Committee notes with concern the persistence of behavioral attitudes
in the society as well as cultural and religious practices which
impede the full enjoyment of human rights. The Committee encourages
the State party to take necessary legislative and other measures
to correct this situation.
Committee notes that not all of the rights in the Covenant have
been made part of domestic law and cannot be invoked directly before
domestic courts. Notwithstanding the State party's stated policy
of thorough legislative review in order to ensure compatibility
of domestic legislation with the Covenant, the Committee notes the
absence of effective institutional mechanisms to ensure systematic
implementation and monitoring of its provisions. The Committee is
concerned about the increasing trend to enact Parliamentary legislation
and constitutional amendments to frustrate decisions of the Supreme
Court that uphold rights protected under the Covenant and overturn
certain laws incompatible with it.
Committee regrets that the Ombudsman has no power to initiate investigation
suo motu but only where a complaint has been lodged. The
Committee also regrets that the President, the President's Office,
the Attorney-General and Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs and any member of their staff are specifically excluded
from investigation by the Ombudsman. The Committee emphasizes the
importance and necessity of setting up an effective independent
institutional mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the
Committee recommends that the State party undertake a comprehensive
review of its domestic legislation, including the Constitution,
with a view to ensuring its full compatibility with the principles
and provisions of the Covenant. The State party is urged to ensure
that the Covenant rights are not restricted or overriden by incompatible
legislation and that individuals are able to challenge in the courts
the application of laws which affect their rights under the Covenant.
The Committee recommends the establishment of institutional mechanisms
to ensure the integration of Covenant rights in law and practice.
Committee is concerned about the duality of the legal statutory
law and customary law), which potentially leads to unequal treatment
between individuals, particularly in the area of marriage and inheritance
laws. The Committee expresses concern that where customary law contravenes
the Covenant or the statutory law, the customary law continues to
be upheld and applied. The Committee is concerned about continued
practices, in violation of various provisions of the Covenant, including
articles 3 and 24, such as kuzvarita (pledging of girls for
economic gain), kuripa ngozi (appeasement to the spirits
of a murdered person), lobola (bride price), female genital
mutilation, early marriage, the statutory difference in the minimum
age of girls and boys for marriage. The Committee recommends that
these and other practices which are incompatible with the Covenant
(articles 3, 7, 23, 24 and others) be prohibited by legislation.
Moreover, the Committee urges the Government to adopt adequate measures
to prevent and eliminate prevailing social attitudes and cultural
and religious practices hampering the realization of human rights
welcoming the Deceased Estate Succession Act 1997, under which a
widow may inherit part of her deceased husband's estate, the Committee
would appreciate further information on the steps taken to ensure
that widows are made aware of this right and that legal assistance
be provided for their benefit.
Committee is concerned about the extent and persistence of domestic
violence against women. Legislation should be passed and make marital
rape a criminal offence. Educational campaigns should be undertaken
and institutional mechanisms should be established to address all
forms of violence against women, and to provide assistance to victims
Committee is concerned about the subordinate status of women in
Zimbabwean society. Measures should be taken, in accordance with
articles 3 and 26 of the Covenant, to eliminate discrimination against
them and promote their role in society. There should be mechanisms
to receive complaints, award appropriate remedies and report publicly
on problems and progress.
Committee expresses its concern over recent reports of excessive
use of force by the police and the army during food riots in 1998.
The Committee urges that all cases of alleged excessive use of force
committed by members of the police or the army be investigated by
an independent and impartial body, that action be taken against
those officers found to have committed abuses and that compensation
be paid to the victims; the State party should report to the Committee
thereon. Intensive training and education programmes in the field
of human rights for members of the army and law enforcement officials
are recommended. The Committee urges that the list of situations
in which the use of lethal force is allowed under domestic law be
regard to pre-trial detention, the Committee expresses concern that
under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act the maximum period
of detention of 48 hours before being brought to a judge or magistrate
may be extended to 96 hours by a senior police officer, a practice
which is incompatible with article 9 of the Covenant. The Committee
is especially concerned that this practice provides opportunity
for ill treatment and intimidation of detainees. The law relating
to arrest and detention should be reviewed to bring it into conformity
with article 9 of the Covenant and to ensure that individuals are
not held in pre-trial custody for longer than 48 hours without court
order. The Committee requests further information on the authority
of the Attorney-General to deny bail to individuals in pre-trial
recognizing the efforts undertaken by the State party to improve
prison conditions, the Committee is concerned about the conditions
of overcrowding and disease in most prisons, resulting in a high
incidence of death. The Committee recommends that these conditions
be remedied in compliance with article 10 of the Covenant and that
the State party provide qualitative and quantitative statistical
data on the state of prisons in its next report.
Committee notes with concern that the decision of the Supreme Court
in Rattigan and Others v. Chief Immigration Officer and Others
has been nullified by an amendment to the constitution, the effect
of which is to deprive both women and men of the right to have their
spouses registered as citizens, who as a consequence may not be
allowed to reside in or enter the territory of Zimbabwe. The Committee
considers that this amendment is incompatible with articles 17 and
23 of the Covenant. The Committee recommends that steps be taken
to bring the law into compliance with the Covenant. The Committee
is also concerned that children born to Zimbabweans abroad may not
acquire Zimbabwen citizenship.
Committee recommends that the State party review its laws with a
view to reducing the number of offences for which capital punishment
can be imposed, in compliance with article 6 of the Covenant and
with the Committee's general comment thereon.
Committee is concerned about recent amendments of section 15 of
the Constitution which inter alia authorize corporal punishment.
The Committee reaffirms its position that corporal punishment is
incompatible with article 7 of the Covenant.
Committee is concerned that the mass media as well as many other
forms of expression,including artistic expression, are subject to
censorship and are largely controlled by the Government. The Committee
is further concerned that the mass media as well as the law on civil
and criminal defamation used by government officials to limit the
freedom of the press. The Committee recommends that the restrictions
on freedom of expression and the press be brought into strict compliance
with article 19(3) of the Covenant.
Committee expresses concern that immunity has been extended to individuals
committing acts of political violence against government opponents.
Moreover, the lack of political pluralism threatens the enjoyment
of democracy in Zimbabwe. The Committee requests the State party
to provide written information on the functioning of the electoral
system, including a breakdown of the size of constituencies.
Committee notes with concern that homosexuals are subjected
to discrimination, e.g. that aliens deemed to be homosexuals
be defined as "Prohibited
Persons" for immigration purposes and are subject to deportation.
The Committee recommends that such legislation be brought
into conformity with the Covenant.
Committee notes with concern that the Postmaster-General is authorized
to intercept any postal articles or telegrams on grounds of public
security or the maintenance of law and to deliver these items to
a specified State employee. The Committee recommends that steps
be taken to ensure that interception be subject to strict judicial
supervision and that the relevant laws be brought into compliance
with the Covenant.
Committee is concerned over legal provisions which restrict freedom
of movement in a manner incompatible with article 12 of the Covenant.
It recommends that appropriate efforts be undertaken to ensure that
all persons are able to move out of the country freely and without
undue delay obtaining the necessary documents.
Committee is concerned about safeguarding the cultural heritage
of minorities in Zimbabwe and recommends, inter alia, that
education be provided in minority languages.
Committee recommends the introduction of appropriate awareness campaigns
to create a deeper understanding of the Covenant and of the need
to respect and protect human rights. Training programmes should
be developed in order to acquaint public officials and professional
groups working in the area of human rights, including public officials,
law-enforcement and correctional officials, members of the judiciary,
members of the defence forces, teachers, social workers and health
care personnel. The Committee further encourages the State party
to include the Covenant in school curricula and to give consideration
to reflecting it in the training curricula.
Committee recommends that the State party's next periodic report
be comprehensive in character and that it address all the points
raised in these concluding observations.
Committee requests the State party to ensure the wide dissemination
in Zimbabwe of the Covenant, the State party report and the Committee's