HARARE – SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 – The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) held a three day workshop on complaints handling and investigations at its Harare office at 144 Samora Machel Avenue from Tuesday, 16 September, 2014 to Thursday 18 September, 2014 to equip the newly recruited members of the Secretariat with international best practices and practical knowledge on how to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations and on how to redress them.
The workshop was facilitated by various legal and human rights experts who included, Professors, Lovemore Madhuku and Geoffrey Feltoe from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara. The Commission also invited Human Rights experts from neighbouring countries, to share and learn from their experiences.
From South Africa, the Commission invited Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo, the Chief Operations Officer of the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) while from Namibia, the Commission invited Advocate John Walters, from the Office of the Ombudsman. Mr Ulrik Spliid and Mr Robert Kirenga from the Danish Institute of Human Rights also facilitated at the workshop.
Complaints handling and investigation, is an integral part of the work of the Commission. As part of its work and in discharge of its mandate, the ZHRC will investigate human rights complaints brought to the Commission by members of the public and will also initiate investigations of any human rights abuses in the country.
The workshop was therefore held to equip the ZHRC staff with current trends in complaints handling and investigations that are consistent with regional and international best practices. The workshop was also intended to assist the Commission in coming up with a Complaints Handling Manual that it would use to effectively execute its mandate.
The ZHRC is a new human rights organisation which was established by Section 242 of the Constitution. The Commission is mandated to, among other things;
- Promote awareness of and respect for all human rights and freedoms;
- Promote the protection, development and realization of all human rights and freedoms;
- Monitor and assess observance of human rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe.
- Conduct research on issues relating to human rights, freedoms and social justice.
- Receive complaints from people on human rights abuses and to take appropriate action;
- Protect people against abuse of power and maladministration by the State and public institutions and by officials of those institutions.
- Make recommendations to Parliament on best ways of promoting, protecting and observance of human rights and freedoms;
- Investigate the conduct of any authority or person, suspected of violating any of the human rights provided in the Constitution’s Declaration of Rights.
- Take necessary action to assist victims of human rights violations to receive justice;
- Visit and inspect prisons, detention places, refugee camps and similar facilities where mentally disordered or intellectually handicapped persons are detained and make necessary recommendations about their conditions to the responsible Minister.
- Prepare and submit a human rights annual report to Parliament.
The Commission has been operating without a Secretariat since its inception in 2010 due to lack of operational, legislative and budgetary support. The Secretariat which is led by the Executive Secretary, Ms Jester Helena Charewa has now been recruited and is now fully functional. The Secretariat provides technical and administrative support to the Commissioners. The recruitment of the Secretariat and the provision of budgetary support are therefore major milestones in the history of the Commission.
The Commission hopes that the workshop will enable members of the Secretariat to develop distinctly transparent, accountable and equitable standards of operation that are consistent with regional and international practices and will enable the Commission to effectively deliver its mandate.
Members of the public who want to know more about human rights or who wish to register any complaints of human rights violations should feel free to visit the ZHRC at 3 Elcombe Rd, Belgravia or 144 S. Machel Avenue, Harare or visit its Southern Region office at 127 Fife Street in Bulawayo.
For more information please contact
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
3 Elcombe Rd
Tel: 04-700710, 04 – 700705
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
144 Samora Machel Avenue
Commissioner Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi