A draft Human Rights Commission Bill, which will operationalise the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and look into issues of human rights violations in the country, has been finalised by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.
Speaking at a media briefing on the principles of the bill, the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the Human Rights Commission, which will be operationalised by the new act, is an independent body which will look into rights violations by individuals, private and state bodies.
â€œIt is proposed that the commission be a corporate body with powers and independence. Any violations before Amendment Number 19 should be referred to the Organ on National Healing,â€ said Cde Chinamasa.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Bill seeks to provide for the operationalisation of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, which was established under section 100R of the constitution.
In terms of Section 100R (5) of the Constitution, the functions of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission are to promote awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society; to promote the development of human rights and freedoms; to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in Zimbabwe and to recommend to Parliament effective measures to promote human rights and freedoms.
The Human Rights Commission will also investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the rights in the Declaration of the Rights has been violated by that authority or person.
It will also assist the Minister referred to in section 100R (8) to prepare any report to be submitted to any regional or international body constituted or appointed for the purpose of receiving such reports under any human rights convention, treaty or agreement to which Zimbabwe is a party.
Amongst its additional provisions, the Commission should also have the power to comment on Bills that may in one way or the other violate the human rights principles contained in the Constitution or international treaties to which Zimbabwe is a party, in consultation with the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
The principles of the proposed bill were approved on the 6th of July and drafting instructions have been sent to the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office.
The bill will be taken to the legislature where it will be read and debated.
When passed by the two houses, it will then be signed into law by the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe.