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The Programmes department is at the core of the delivery of the Commission’s mandate. This is the department that deals directly with clients of the ZHRC and is geared to ensure that all the functions of the Commission, as detailed in Section 243 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, are implemented and managed effectively to the satisfaction of all relevant stakeholders.
There are three units that fall under Programmes. These are:-
Complaints handling and investigations Unit
The complaints handling and investigations unit is responsible for receiving all complaints that come to the Commission. It is also responsible for making investigations into the reported cases. The Commission deals with complaints of abuses and violations of rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and in any international human rights agreements that the country has agreed to sign and any complaints arising from abuse of power or maladministration by the State and public institutions and by officers of those institutions. It should be noted that the office of the public protector has been abolished. Cases that were being dealt with by the public protector are now being dealt with by this Unit.
After investigating and concluding that there has been a human rights violation, the Commission can make recommendations it sees fit to redress the situation and also send this information to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Commission can also recommend payment of compensation to the individual or their family and where appropriate, it may recommend release of a person from prison. The Commission may also recommend that the person seeks redress in a court of law, as well as recommend prosecution of offenders. The Commission however cannot handle complaints of violations that occurred before 13 February 2009 or violations in which a three year period has elapsed.
Education, Promotion and Research Unit
The Education, Promotion and Research unit is responsible for educating people on human rights issues through various media channels, conducting community outreach programmes, seminars and training workshops.
The Unit is also responsible for developing Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for use by the Commission in order to promote awareness of, and respect of all human rights and freedoms. It is also responsible for conducting research on issues relating to human rights, freedoms and social justice. The Unit is also responsible for establishing a documentation centre for storing books and publications on human rights.
Monitoring and Inspections Unit
The Monitoring and Inspections Unit was established in order to fulfil the provisions of section 243(k) of the Constitution. The unit is responsible for visiting and inspecting prisons, places of detention, refugee camps and related facilities. It is also responsible for visiting and inspecting places where mentally disordered or intellectually handicapped persons are detained. The purpose of such visits and inspections will be to ascertain the conditions under which these various groups of people live under, and to make recommendations regarding those conditions to the relevant authorities responsible for administering the law related to those places. The unit is also tasked with researching on issues related to the above mentioned groups.