Zim warned against using lockdown as cover to curtail human rights

By Almot Maqolo

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Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) says lockdown must not be extended as a cover up to curtail people’s civil and political rights but on basis that the country fails to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria of lifting lockdowns.

As of yesterday, the southern African nation recorded three new Covid-19 cases to take the tally of confirmed cases to 51. A total of 2 000 tests were carried out, bringing the total of tests conducted since the first case was recorded in late March to 34 707. Zimbabwe extended the 2nd Level lockdown indefinitely with fortnightly reviews.

In its latest 4th COVID-19 Monitoring and Advocacy Report, ZADHR said it continues to receive reports of assaults, harassment and other forms of intimidation for those alleged to have breached the lockdown regulations.

“Of note is the recent flash demonstration by MDC Alliance youths in Warren Park and the subsequent arrest and abduction of 3 women demonstrators Hon. Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. ZADHR objects to the use of brute force, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment to anyone perceived to have breached any laws related to the lockdown.

“The horrific experiences of the outlined trio are an act of cowardice and utter disregard of the law and human rights instruments such as the Convention Against Torture and the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. ZADHR calls for an urgent and independent investigation into the abduction of these three women,” it said.

The association called upon the United Nations, the World Health Organization and regional bodies such as SADC and the African Union to condemn these latest states of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. “ZADHR maintains that the COVID-19 pandemic must not provide a breeding ground for perpetuating impunity, rights violations and a disguise for crushing political dissent.”

It said that the southern African nation has shown a lethargic approach towards conducting widespread PCR diagnostic tests for COVID 19. “In the absence of key epidemiological evidence on the true distribution of COVID 19 in Zimbabwe, it becomes difficult to ascertain the basis for extending the lockdown period,” it said.

The association said health workers must have adequate PPEs in order to adequately examine and establish the diagnosis of COVID 19 and its differentials in a timely fashion in order to reduce mortality and morbidity.There is also little attention, the association said, being paid towards ensuring that the lockdown will not exacerbate socio-economic vulnerabilities to Zimbabweans.

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