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Huamn Rights In Nigeria

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Human rights in Zimbabwe

Since 2000 the human rights situation in Zimbabwe declined rapidly. 2000 was the year the government led by Robert Mugabe suffered its first major defeat in a national referendum to change the constitution. It marked the beginning of a campaign of repression aimed at eliminating opposition. Since then, intimidation and attacks on supporters of the political opposition and on the independent media have escalated.

Zimbabwe's human rights obligations include both the commitments contained in the Constitutional Bill of Rights and the international treaties to which it is a State Party (including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights). Neither the ICCPR nor the African Charter have been incorporated into Zimbabwe's domestic laws.

The referendum

The national referendum for a new constitution took place on February 12-13 2000. Among the proposals was limitation to future presidents to two terms (even though Mugabe could have stood for another two terms since it was not retroactive) and immunity from prosecution for any illegal acts committed while in office for Mugabe's government and military officials. It also allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation. The proposals were rejected at 55%. Even though the vote was a surprise to Mugabe's party, the ZANU-PF, and was ambarrassing for the next parliamentary elections which were due next April, Mugabe declared that he would "abide by the will of the people". It didn't stop white-owned farms being invaded and after the general elections, the parliament pushed through an amendment, taken word for word from the rejected constitution, allowing the seizure of white-owned farms.

Food crisis

Since 2002 millions of Zimbabweans have been dependent on local and international food aid programs. Tens of thousands are reported to have gone hungry anyway. In August 2002, the NGO International Crisis Group claimed that the ZANU-PF government was carrying out a policy of selective starvation against its political enemies. At that time, the denial of food became one of the government's principal tools of repression in Zimbabwe.

In May 2004, Mugabe stated that the food crisis was over and told the United Nations that Zimbabwe did not need food aid anymore. Observers believe that the government has been lying for political gain and especially around elections. The right to adequate food is not specifically recognized in the constitution of Zimbabwe but the country is part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR). The IESCR states: "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food" and "the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger". In one of their report, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has showed violations of the right to adequate food. The organization identified three types of governmental obligation not respected: the "obligation to respect existing access to adequate food", the "obligation to protect" (which requires measures to ensure that other actors do not deprive individuals of their access to food) and the "obligation to fulfil" (to facilitate people's access to resources and to provide food to those who are unable to do it by themselves).

Repression of human rights defenders

Since 2002, the Government of Zimbabwe has introduced several pieces of legislation which restrict freedom of expression and association including the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Private Voluntary Organizations Act.

The Public Order and Security Act

The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) became law on 22 January 2002. Under POSA the police must be notified four days in advance of any public meeting or demonstration. In practice, observers showed that the police have interpreted the requirement to "notify" as meaning that police can decide whether or not a public event can take place. POSA allows the police to prohibit public events if they believe such events will result in public disorder. Since its introduction, POSA has been used by the authorities in Zimbabwe to arbitrarily arrest hundreds of people, including journalists or human rights defenders.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act / Freedom of the press

Since the creation of the Ministry of Information and Publicity, a media commission has disciplinary powers to revoke licenses, seize equipment, jail journalists for up to two years or fine them. The Access to Information and Protection and Privacy Act (AIPP), signed on 15 March 2002, requires all journalists, domestic and foreign, to be licensed by the government. This measure restricted



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