(Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by Editor)
HARARE – Renowned human rights lawyer and Human Rights Watch Director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga said Zimbabweans need to know their rights so that they can effectively claim them and hold those in authority accountable in cases of violations.
He was speaking during an interview with ZimDaily as the world commemorated International Human Rights Day on Thursday.
“There are laws that are in place to protect human rights, to protect citizens. To protect everyone but what is important is for everyone, for Zimbabweans to know their rights and to be able to claim those rights.
“I think what’s important is for Zimbabweans to take time and read the Zimbabwean Constitution and we need to know also that there is this mistake and misconception that human rights are political rights only. That is not correct,” said Mavhinga.
Mavhinga noted that in many cases of human rights violations, people were not aware that their rights were being violated.
He said: “People need to know that they have a right to safe and clean environment, right to education, they have a right to sufficient health facilities.
“So the idea that someone must have the highest standards of mental and physical health, that is a right but often enough when people turn up at public hospitals and there is no support, no infrastructure, they are not aware that in fact it is a violation of their human rights.”
The human rights lawyer also said there were avenues people could use to challenge these violations such as the Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights (ZLHR) and other community groups which are able to take up these issues to help victims.
Commenting on the recent demolitions that happened in Budiriro, Mavhinga said the victims can approach different organizations that can help take the process further.
“Right now if you go to Budiriro 5 with the demolitions that are happening. If you don’t know that you have a right to protection and housing, you may not be able to assert those rights. But if you know that this is a violation of your rights then those women who are now sleeping out in the open can come together and identify residents groups, lawyers groups to take the process further.”
He also urged citizens to assert their rights and keep fighting to promote the respect of their rights.
“Human rights are not given freely on a silver platter. You have to claim them, you have to assert them. This is a struggle for human rights, it’s not an easy road but we need to keep fighting on.
Mavhinga implored the media to continue exposing the human rights infractions so that these issues are brought to light.