ZHRC: We operate freely, despite government funding

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has reiterated its independence, emphasising that it operates according to international principles.

Dr Dorothy Moyo, ZHRC deputy chairperson, stated this during a meeting with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, NANGO, and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to review the government’s progress on implementing UN human rights recommendations.

In her presentation on the ZHRC’s role in assisting the government, Dr Moyo stressed the Commission’s independence.

“As far as the ZHRC is concerned, I think we are independent,” she said. “I’ve been with the commission for four years and I don’t recall being told to investigate something or not investigate another thing by anyone outside the commission. So, if there are issues we haven’t investigated, it’s either because we don’t have jurisdiction or simply can’t investigate everything.”

“But I can assure you that we investigate everything presented to us and produce a report that goes to the complainant and relevant stakeholders. This is the extent of our independence,” she added.

Dr Moyo asserted that government funding doesn’t compromise the Commission’s independence.

“People have raised concerns about government funding,” she said. “However, the Paris Principles, which outline international standards for human rights institutions, allow for up to 70% government funding. Our salaries are paid by the government, but that doesn’t compromise our independence because it’s in line with international standards.”

She also mentioned the ZHRC’s lobbying efforts regarding the convention against torture and the alignment of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Acts to the constitution.

“We are also seized with the alignment of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Acts to the constitution, we are also seized with that, with the Ministry of Justice and hopefully something is going to happen, we are confident of that because I am sure you may be aware that as a national human rights commission we enjoy the A status from Ghana, the Global Alliance of International human rights, so we enjoy that status and in terms of that status, as a commission, you are assessed and they assess whether you meet International standards and I am proud to say we have met that standard for the second time in 2023,” said Dr Moyo. 

She added, “We were accredited with this in 2016 and in 2023 we were re-accredited with the A status. The alignment of our act to the constitution was highlighted when we were awarded that status, so if that is not rectified, chances are we will not be re-accredited the next time, so I am sure something will come.”

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