Harare – February 2015 –The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) has launched the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Shona and Ndebele languages.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) Chairperson, Commissioner Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi applauded UNIC for producing local versions of the UDHR.
He expressed hope that the translated versions will go a long way in advancing the work of the Commission by ensuring Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on human rights are available in local languages which are more easily understood by communities.
Commissioner Mugwadi highlighted that the unveiling of the UDHR in local languages is a clear expression and recognition of the people’s right to access information as well as the right to language and culture.
He however appealed to UNIC to further translate the UDHR into the other official languages recognised under Section 6 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number 20 of 2013) for purposes of inclusivity. There are 16 languages that are officially recognised in Zimbabwe and these are, Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
The UDHR is one of the most important foundational international instruments for promoting respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms which are enshrined in various national constitutions, bills of rights and municipal laws.
Speaking at the same event, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli said while he applauded UNIC for translating the UDHR into Shona and Ndebele languages, what remains outstanding and important, is to distribute the translated versions to members of the public, make them understand the contents and realise their human rights.
While the UDHR has been in effect since 1948, it remained ‘news’ to many people because of the language in which it has been communicated which is incomprehensible to many people, noted UNIC Officer-in-charge, Ms Tafadzwa Mwale.
There are many misconceptions pertaining to human rights arising from their being misunderstood and highly politicised, added Mr Francis Munhundiripo, the Principal Administration Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.