Commemorating Human Rights Day – My Identity, My Right!

The Legal Resources Foundation joins the world in commemorating the Human Rights Day. This day was set aside globally to celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The UDHR enshrines the rights and freedoms that all human beings are entitled to regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language national or social origin or any other status.

This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme, “Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights.” As an organisation that promotes human rights and access to justice, the theme serves as a reminder for us to reflect on our achievements as a country in reducing inequalities as well as identifying the gaps that Government needs to address if we are to achieve equality.

Whilst we appreciate efforts made by Government to ensure that Zimbabwe’s citizens have documentation, there is growing concern over limited access to documentation especially for people living in rural areas.  Access to documentation is a human right which is hinged on the enjoyment of other rights and as such should be promoted and fulfilled without fail. In addition to the already existing challenges related to access to documentation that have prevailed over the years, the effects of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns saw some of the Registrar General’s offices closing whilst others downsized the number of staff working from the office. Although this was done in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it had negative implications for those seeking to obtain documents.

Amnesty International released a report in April 2021 which revealed that 300,000 people in Zimbabwe are currently at risk of statelessness due to lack of legal documentation, although lack of official data means the exact number remains unknown. The importance of documentation can never be overemphasized as lack thereof results in one failing to enjoy human rights which include the right to identity, the right to education, the right to vote, freedom of movement, the right to own property, the right to a fair trial for juvenile offenders the right to employment and the right to citizenship amongst others.

As we work towards “reducing inequalities and advancing human rights”, the Legal Resources Foundation is imploring the Government to adopt necessary measures to ensure the backlog in the acquisition of documentation is cleared countrywide.

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