We the participants of the Forum of NGOs participating at the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 10th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at Ngor Diarama Hotel, from November 20 – 22, 2004,
Recalling the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution on the Protection of Human Rights defenders in Africa adopted at its 35th Ordinary Session on 4June 2004 in Banjul, The Gambia
Recalling the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998 which outlines the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
Stressing that the prime responsibility and duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe lie with the State,
Emphasizing the important role that individuals, civil society organizations and groups in Zimbabwe play in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Alarmed at the government of Zimbabwe’s imminent intention to promulgate NGO and Election legislation which will result in the following:
a. Closure of some NGOs
b. Criminalization of human rights defenders and their work
c. Banning of foreign funding of human rights organisations and human rights defenders
d. Control and manipulation of NGOs and human rights defenders by the executive through a government appointed NGO council and the Zimbabwe Election Commission
The NGO Forum resolves to recommend to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to recommend to the government of Zimbabwe;
1. To immediately put an end to any kind of harassment and reprisals against human rights defenders.
2. To restore the independence of the judiciary and to promptly investigate all cases of assault, harassment and intimidation of the judiciary and the legal profession and bring perpetrators to book;
3. To repeal or revise repressive legislation such as POSA and AIPPA to put it in conformity with international human rights standards
4. To invite the special Rapporteur on the African Commission on Human Rights Defenders and the Special representative of the United Nation Secretary General on human rights defenders to visit Zimbabwe to assess the situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe
5. To refrain from passing the intended NGO and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Law in their current form as they violate and impinge on African Charter and other international human rights standards
6. To free the press and allow for greater enjoyment of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.
The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders of the African Commission on human and people’s rights
To give particular attention to the situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and to initiate a process of continuous dialogue with the Zimbabwe government on the situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and provide a report at the African Commission’s at its next session.
Done in Dakar, November 22, 2004