Civic space and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe

Joint Statement at the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcome the High Commissioner’s update. With a continued focus on prevention, we request the High Commissioner and the Council to pay attention to the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. The government has continued with its crackdown on civil society in violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The state’s attacks on civil society have been systematic. Since the January 2019 shutdown atrocities where more than 17 people were shot dead and several injured, civil society members across the country have reported an increase in surveillance, abductions, arbitrary arrests and detention and interruption of their meetings by suspected state agents. Their legitimate and vital work of providing oversight, supporting and protecting vulnerable citizens, is now criminalised.

The nation is currently gripped with a crippling economic situation which is creating a restless population. The response of the government by closing civic space and trampling on fundamental freedoms is deplorable.

In the same period, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media has led an onslaught against civil society leaders whom they accuse of planning to topple the government. These baseless allegations have been followed by a spate of arrests of civil society activists.  A total of eleven civil society leaders are currently facing charges designed to criminalise human rights work.

CIVICUS and the Forum request the members of the Council to pay special attention to the situation in Zimbabwe, to read the warning signs of a deteriorating situation and act accordingly.

Civic space in Zimbabwe is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor