Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum addressed the media on their submissions to the Commission of Inquiry at Media Centre this morning.

The Chairperson of the forum, Jestina Mukoko highlighted that The Commission must ensure the security of everyone involved in the 1 August incident. She added that victims have since reported further victimization by state agents. The forum also accused Sunday Mail of 19 August 2018 of targeting the forum so as to preempt their report to the Commission.

Mukoko highlighted that the forum came into play in 1998 to advocate for the people during the food riots. The forum also fights for the people rights and It has ensured that the situation in Zimbabwe has remained on the agenda of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The forum is also seeking that human rights are achieved during the investigation by the Commission of Inquiry.

Mukoko pointed out that the Commission of inquiry must take measures that ensure the security of the victims and witnesses who are going to assist with some information. She went to emphasize that this protection surpasses mere declarations that witnesses and victims are safe and this has come into play after victims have been forced to go into hiding because their safety was not guaranteed.

The Commission has been asked to make itself more visible as they carry out their duties. They have also been urged to make uses of various media platforms so that they engage with the rest of the citizens. She added the people deserve to know what the commission is about, how to approach and what to expect from them. The commission ought to use a language that can easily be understood and this will encourage more people to engage with them.

Respect of confidentially is also another aspect the commission is expected to look into. The forum expects confidentiality never to be breached because it has various consequences on the victims and witnesses. The forum also urges the commission to be cautious as people come forward with confidential information and also make provisions for those who want to be anonymous.

Physical protection of victims and witnesses must also be guaranteed. The forum highlights that the 1 August has left vulnerable people in the face of a very powerful group. The fact state security is also under investigation, the commission must engage with people so as to come up with the most strategic protection idea.

The victims and witnesses must be treated with respect and compassion for their dignity. The commission, staff, partners and all stakeholders are being encouraged to undergo a training that will ensure a respectable conduct. To add on Gender sensitivity is also another important factor the Commission has to consider.

Psychological protection is also needed for the families and victims of the deceased as it might trigger re-victimization. The forum has encouraged the commission to have a trained personnel that will cater for the psychological welfare of the victims. The commission is also expected to ensure the equality and fairness on all the victims. Issues such as ethnicity, religion, language, gender, ability, nationality, age, and political affiliation must not be barriers to participation.

Persons with special needs such as people with disabilities are also to be accommodated and their needs attended to during these interactions.

The commission has been reminded that it will work for 90 days after they will be gone but their legacy stays forever. The victims will have to leave with their findings for years to come hence they need to prove their credibility. The forum pleads with the commission to take a victim-centered approach that will ensure the protection and security of witnesses.

Plenary Session

Do you see the commission properly getting the findings which are not finger pointing?

Lizwe Jamela highlighted that the commission must demarcate law from reality as the protests were legal and the courts can cater for that so they are supposed to find the killers.

What is the role of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission?

Mukoko stated that these two commissions will work together but the air must be cleared on some issues.

Are the findings going to be made public?

Jamela pointed out that the concern of the forum is to ensure that they will not be a waste for the people.

Is the commission going to act as the court of law?

Jamela stated that the commission can only provide recommendations and the legal institutions are supposed to take their part as they have not been substituted.