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Statement on the effects of sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in
25 October 2020
1. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is one of the five Chapter
12 Independent Commissions supporting democracy and mandated to
promote, protect and enforce human rights and freedoms and entrenching the
same at all levels of society as provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment No. 20 (Act) 2013.
2. As part of its strategy in fulfilling its mandate through monitoring the
protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights, the ZHRC has noted
with deep concern the negative impact and far-reaching effects of the
economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States of America,
the United Kingdom, the European Union and its allies. Given that the
sanctions are being justified as an enforcement measure to ensure the full
observance of human rights and the rule of law, the ZHRC contends that no
matter how grave the human rights situation in any country may be, the
imposition of further suffering on innocent citizens through unilateral coercive
measures only further worsens the economic situation and the plight of
innocent citizens.
3. The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have had unintended consequences as
they have contributed to the increase in human rights violations
notwithstanding the fact that they were imposed with the aim of improving
human rights. They have proved and remain to be a counter-productive policy
tool, whose deleterious effects are being continuously felt by the general
Zimbabwean populace.
4. The ZHRC further contends that the extraterritorial application of unilateral
sanctions is a clear violation of international law. It violates the international
law principles of jurisdiction, respect for and dignity of national and territorial
sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other independent
states and the legal equality of States. Further, the sanctions violate basic
principles of the UN Charter and other important legal instruments as they
deprive innocent civilians of the right to development and the right to self determination.
In addition, the sanctions are also incompatible with
international law as they are used as coercive measures regarding choices
that ought to remain free, such as choice of a political, economic, social and
cultural system and the formulation of foreign policy.
5. The ZHRC’s observation and assessment of the reality on the ground is that
the tight grip of the declared and undeclared sanctions is being felt throughout
the entire economy. In this regard, the ‘targeted sanctions’ have severely
worsened Zimbabwe’s already depressed economy. The effects of the
economic meltdown on ordinary people are unprecedented, putting further to
the test the myth that targeted sanctions are only focused on those targeted.
The negative effects are largely felt by the vulnerable and marginalised
groups especially the youths, women, children, older persons and persons
with disabilities, among others.
6. Sanctions are seriously impinging on human rights. Children are born and
raised in a sanctioned environment and economy. Access to quality social
services such as education, health, food, clean and potable water and shelter
is compromised, all because of the effects of sanctions.
7. The ZHRC therefore calls for the immediate and unconditional removal of all
forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe to pave way for its socio-economic
transformation and economic development. The removal of sanctions will not
only benefit Zimbabwe but also the SADC Region and the African Continent
at large.
8. Finally, the ZHRC recommends and appeals to the international community to
resort in the first instance, to solving differences through constructive
engagements rather than imposition of punitive measures which have the
effect of infringing on the rights of innocent people and worsening their
wellbeing. It is on this score that the Commission fully supports the call by the
people and Government of Zimbabwe, the SADC Community, the African
Union and many other well-wishers in the Global Village for the immediate
and unconditional removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe for better
enjoyment of human rights by its people.
Hotlines: 0771 838 656 or 0786 602 035
Harare Office
144 Samora Machel Avenue, Harare
P. Bag 7759 Causeway, Harare
Telephone: +263 242 703596/ 70361/
Bulawayo Office
49 J.M Nkomo Street (Between 3rd &
4th Avenue), Bulawayo
Telephone: +263 292 64170-73
Facebook Page:
Twitter: @zhrc365

Statement on the effects of sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in Zimbabwe