Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
Date: 24 July 2018
We welcome the widening of the democratic space in Zimbabwe ahead of the 30 July presidential elections, and call on the Government, all political parties and other institutions to ensure that the elections are held in an environment which is peaceful and where human rights and the rule of law are fully respected.
It is encouraging to see open political rallies and peaceful demonstrations being held in Harare, as well as the many expressions of cautious optimism from civil society. The presence of some international human rights organisations, in addition to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to monitor the human rights environment around the upcoming national elections is also a welcome sign.
We remain concerned however at the increasing number of reports, particularly in some rural areas, of voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment and coercion, including people being forced to attend political rallies. There has also been the worrying use of disparaging language against female political candidates. We call on the authorities – and political parties and their supporters – to ensure that the elections are not marred by such acts so that all Zimbabweans can participate free from fear in a credible election process.
To this end, we note the signing of the Peace Pledge by the political parties on 26 June, under the auspices of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. We welcome their commitment to promote a climate of peace and tolerance, accept the results of elections, or challenge the results through the due process of law, refrain from inducing fear in citizens, campaign against all forms of violence and intimidation and resolve disputes through dialogue.
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2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: http://www.standup4humanrights.org/
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