Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Statement on the Launch of the National Inquiry into Issues around Access to Documentation in Zimbabwe
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) for the Republic of Zimbabwe, responsible for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights in Zimbabwe in accordance with Sections 233 and 243 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In its work since operationalisation in June 2014, the ZHRC has determined that problems associated with access to national documentation are some of the major human rights challenges confronting our country.
Based on stakeholder engagement meetings, community outreaches, complaints received from members of the public, and monitoring and assessment missions undertaken by the Commission over the past 4 years of operation, it became apparent that these problems have affected and continue to affect a significant number of Zimbabweans, who feel short changed on full enjoyment of the human rights they have been guaranteed in the National Constitution.
In accordance with its Constitutional mandate, the Commission has therefore informed relevant Government Ministries and Stakeholders that it is proceeding to conduct public hearings and is inviting written and oral submissions from all affected or interested members of the public. These hearings will be conducted in all the ten Provinces throughout the country, commencing in Harare in the first week of May 2019.
The terms of reference for this National Inquiry on access to national documentation are as follows:
- To inquire into the challenges of accessing identity documents (birth certificates, national identity cards, passports and death certificates), and the extent to which they affect people in Zimbabwe;
- To inquire into and determine the root causes and factors which prevent ease access to identity Documents;
- To assess the impact of lack of documentation by individuals and groups on the enjoyment of human rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, national laws and relevant international and regional treaties and instruments;
- To review the effectiveness of existing laws, institutions, policies and procedures and analyse attitudes and beliefs relating to accessing identity documents in Zimbabwe; and
- To report, recommend and follow-up on steps to be taken in addressing barriers identified in accessing identity documents.
The Commission hopes the National Inquiry will lead to positive recommendations that will enable many more citizens to access the necessary documentation required.
In the first instance, all members of the public and relevant Stakeholders are invited to make written submissions to the secretary of the National Inquiry by 31 July 2019. Written submissions should detail the issues of concern in accessing the documents, the specific national document that was sought and the location of the office where the document was sought.
The Commission will also accept expert reports, videos, audios and other forms of evidence regarding access to documentation in this jurisdiction and beyond.
Anyone who wishes to make an oral submission to the inquiry is also requested to contact the National Inquiry Co-ordinator before the date of the public hearing meeting of interest to them. All dates of the public hearings will be published and confirmed for each respective Province in due course.